While electric vehicle sales are not overwhelming worldwide, the writing is on the wall. Global electric car sales totaled more than 1.2 million in 2017. Predictions now suggest this figure will exceed 2 million by 2019. Longer range forecasts suggest that electric vehicle sales will be at 25 million with over 400 different models by the year 2025. If this is the case, which companies are in the best position to be market leaders? Though many might think of Tesla Motors, the EV landscape is looking pretty competitive. The leader in electric car sales a few years from now may not even be a company you know.
What’s Holding Electric Car Sales Back?
Before examining which company is leading the pack in electric car sales, market barriers deserve attention. Overall, three major barriers exist when it comes to electric vehicle sales. First, consumers require electric cars to travel a reasonable distance before needing to be recharged. Secondly, batteries must be able to recharge quickly. Waiting several minutes is not acceptable when compared to the refueling times of combustible engines. Lastly, adequate recharging infrastructures need to be in place. Interestingly, two of these three barriers affecting electric vehicle sales involves the battery itself. And for this reason, many potential leaders in electric car sales are investing heavily in these technologies.
Batteries – The New Mega-Energy Industry
Within 20 years, electric vehicle sales are expected to reach 40 percent of all car purchases. This means over 40 million electric car sales will take place each year globally. Understanding this, and the fact each needs a battery, estimates project that the battery industry will be worth over $240 billion! It should, therefore, come as little surprise that the “big boys” in the energy sector are making moves toward this industry. BP Oil has invested in battery manufacturers as well as recharging infrastructures throughout the UK. Likewise, Shell has purchased large charging station companies and similarly invested in new battery technology startups. Batteries will definitely be the new oil of the future.
Energy companies are not the only ones investing heavily in battery manufacturing and innovation, however. Naturally, Tesla, in partnership with Panasonic, runs its own battery Gigafactory. But many others are pursuing battery technologies as well. Companies like Porsche are developing their own battery charging systems as well as battery systems. Others have partnered with battery manufacturers. General Motors, Volvo, BMW, Nissan, Toyota, Daimler, and Volkswagen are all pursuing various battery startup companies. Companies like A123 Systems, AESC, Samsung, and Axeon are now well known in the industry. And with every advancement, the volume of electric vehicle sales is likely to grow.
China – The “Not-So Sleeping” Giant in Electric Vehicle Sales
Plagued with pollution issues, and with a large automobile market, China by far has the most electric vehicle sales currently. China has roughly 50 percent of the electric car sales worldwide based on recent data. For this reason, China is strongly supporting battery manufacturing and electric vehicle infrastructures in addition to autonomous vehicle technologies. In fact, over 140 battery manufacturing companies currently exist in China alone! This has resulted in a significant increase in battery production that is expected to double by 2020. China also predicts it will need 10 times this capacity by 2037 to meet anticipated electric vehicle sales.
Global Electric Vehicle Sales Leaders of 2017
With about 4 percent of all automobile sales being electric vehicles worldwide, Tesla remains the top electric car sales leader. But barely. While Tesla enjoyed 15 percent of the market, two Chinese companies together combined for 25 percent of electric vehicle sales. BYD accounted for 14 percent of electric car sales while BAIC had 11 percent. More importantly, BYD has invested heavily in vertical integration. BYD is not only the largest battery manufacturer in China but is predicted to be the largest in the world by 2020. This has notable implications when combined with a massive domestic market for electric vehicle sales.
The Winner in Electric Vehicle Sales Is…?
When it comes down to it, predicting the future leader in electric vehicle sales is difficult. Many factors exist, and many unknowns are present. For example, many car companies are investing in solid state batteries as opposed to lithium ones. This could affect the distance of travel and recharging capabilities. Likewise, companies like Toyota, Honda, GM, and BMW are adept at producing millions of cars a year. This could give them a manufacturing advantage. However, companies like BYD deserve attention. In addition to producing 500,000 cars a year, they are a major player in batter production. Given that BYD already has 100,000 electric vehicle sales each year now, they could be “top dog.” Regardless, one thing is for certain. All companies tend to agree…electric vehicles look to be the future of automotive transportation.
EVP & Associate Publisher