Almost conclusively now, electric vehicles appear to have won the power train argument in the automotive industry and car manufacturers from all over the world have made significant promises to deliver only hybrid and electric vehicles in the future. From automotive shows to the world’s cities, new models and ideas are being tested and the general public whilst being broadly reticent at first is now beginning to accept the idea of battery powered chargeable vehicles.
Whilst the industry waits for consumer adoption levels to really boom, manufacturers are gearing up for a serious fight to establish a position in what will undoubtedly become the main automotive market. The leaders of a few years ago now have significant new challengers and are having to fight harder for sales than ever before. Huge new challenges are becoming obvious as the world tries to establish exactly how it will power and build all these new vehicles.
There is a new heavy demand for the rare earth materials that electric vehicles need and some concerns about the environmental implications of replacing the global fleet with this technology. One country that is not being overly cautious about this change is China and it has ploughed ahead to the point where its manufacturers are now dominant in the electric vehicle industry. Within the next decade a point will arrive where electric vehicles will outsell traditional combustion engine vehicles, but in order for that to happen and it not be a charging and technical disaster many things must change.
- The lead Chinese car manufacturers have in the race for mainstream electric vehicles is revealed by the division between domestically produced cars and those made overseas. For conventional cars Geely and others occupy less than half of the domestic car market; when only electric vehicles are examined indigenous firms account for the vast majority of the market. Foreign brands have improved reputations compared to those made locally, consumer surveys have shown. For the discrepancy between perceptions of foreign and domestic brands to be overcome to such an extent when electric vehicles are examined is a signal of the position of strength China is now in compared to the remainder of the global EV market. Now responsible for over half of all EV sales worldwide, the Chinese market shows no signs of relinquishing a position of dominance any time soon.
- China has the most aggressive subsidies for electric vehicles anywhere in the world. State hand-outs have been cited as being a leading cause behind the rise of China as the world leading player in electric vehicle sales. So far heavy subsidies have been applied to all electric vehicles, but such a system has raised a plethora of problems and, under pressure from government officials and industry insiders, could soon be moribund. Wang Fengying, chief executive of China’s Great Wall Motor Co Ltd and a delegate with Hebei province, went on record to say that local governments were using subsidies to protect companies situated within their jurisdiction rather than to stimulate the industry as a whole. Wang also accused local governments of adjusting technological standards to harm the fortunes of rivals. Although subsidies have proved successful in creating exceptionally fast growth rates for EVs in China, the unintended consequences pose very serious problems for future development.
- Under previous rules foreign car companies must have agreed a partnership with a Chinese manufacturer before being allowed to sell goods in the country. Foreign players were limited to just two partnerships and were not to own more than 50% of either to protect and develop domestic industry, Now that number has expanded to three, enabling greater transfer of technology and more companies to benefit. Quotas on the number of electric cars manufacturers which produce or import 30,000 cars per year seek to take advantage of greater foreign investment into the EV market. This has been reflected by a relaxing of rules on car companies investing overseas. Recently there have been a plethora of Chinese investments; during February 2018 Geely purchased a 10% stake in Mercedes Benz owner Daimler AG worth $9bn.
- Examine who the main players are in the EV industry and who are the emerging new players
- Look at the challenges faced by the industry and how likely these are to be overcome
- See the countries that are really pushing ahead with the technology and why
- Analyze the future of the industry, who the winners and losers are and what the competition looks like
- What are the most important EV models on sale?
- What companies are going to become dominant?
- Why are hybrids so important in EV tech?
- What does the future of the industry look like?
- What do governments need to do to encourage growth?
- How far away are we from the expected EV boom?
Hybrid cars represent immediate future of electric vehicles
Hybrid vehicle technology development is beating development in both petrol and electric
Plug-in hybrid technology is middle ground in race to mass production electric vehicles
Advances in hybrid powertrains contrast electric vehicles in state of readiness
Hybrid energy well placed to take advantage of industry need to reduce fuel costs
Hybrid technology is proving to be a useful transition
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List fo Figures
Figure 1: Global hybrid car sales 2009 to 2016 (millions)
Figure 2: BMW 330e
Figure 3: McLaren P1
Figure 4: Volvo FE Hybrid 9