Daily Management Review

Seven signs that electric cars gain traction


Leaders and neophytes of global automotive industry have realized that future belongs to electric motors, and are boosting historical transition to the new technology.

Plug'n Drive
Plug'n Drive
A growing number of experts in the field of automotive is convinced that "electric revolution" might have finally begun in 2016.

Number of sold cars approaches critical mass

By the end of 2016, sales of electric or hybrid (combined electric and petrol engines) cars reached 2 million vehicles. In Europe (the EU plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein), their number exceeds 500 thousand, according to calculations of Brussels research company Transport & Environment. This is close to the critical mass, when widespread installation of charging stations will be justified. Currently, ack of a wide charging infrastructure is one of the main obstacles for development of electric cars industry.

China becomes a leader of sales and production

The largest car market in the world has also become the most important market for electric vehicles. In terms of sales, China overtook the US in 2015, and widened the gap in 2016. From January to August, Chinese authorities registered about 240 thousand new passenger and commercial electric and hybrid vehicles, which is two and a half times more than in the same period last year. Americans meanwhile bought about 93 thousand electric cars during this period.

Norway shows how to make a leader out of niche product 

Norway is the world leader by share of electric vehicles in total volume of new cars sold (28 percent). This shows that right state incentives can turn a niche product into one generally accepted, and eventually create nearly a market leader in just a few years. The fact that electric vehicles have taken root in the country with a harsh climate and long distances serves as a model for other northern states, first of all Scandinavian.

Volkswagen’s new strategy 

In April 2016, the largest in Europe carmaker Volkswagen announced its new program on reorientation to release electric vehicles. The German company had to change the corporate strategy after ‘Diesel scandal’ broke out in September 2015. For many years, the company deliberately underestimated data on harmful emissions of their diesel engines. Besides, this step has partly been caused by long-term interests of China (VW does not want to give up many years of leadership in the Chinese automotive market).

The group’s new head Matthias Müller proclaimed 2016 a "transition year" and promised to develop 30 new models of electric vehicles and hybrids by 2025. Ten years later, their annual output should reach at least 1 million.

Leading carmakers accelerate development of electric models

Convincing evidence that industry is turning towards electricity clearly showed itself in September 2016 at Paris Motor Show. In particular, Japanese company Toyota and Franco-Japanese Renault-Nissan have been followed by German manufacturers, previously keen on diesel engines. Thus, Head of Daimler, Dieter Zetsche announced in Paris that 15 to 25 percent of all cars sold by concern will be equipped with an electric motor before 2025. BMW in the spring of 2016 proclaimed a swing towards digital technology and electric cars.

IT-giants of the United States promote an idea of "computer on wheels"

Google has been experimenting with self-driving car, and Apple is still deciding whether to go down the same path or focus on creating software for autonomous driving. In any case, smart cars are underway, American IT-giants are trailblazers of the process. Initially, they rely only on electric vehicles.

Tesla accumulates orders for Model 3 and starts production of batteries

American pioneer in the electric cars industry, Tesla Motors, in the spring of 2016 began accepting pre-orders for its first fiscal electric Model 3, which goes on sale in 2017. More than 400 thousand customers made a prepayment in just a few weeks. As a result, in the summer the company has decided to double production area at its California factory. Later in July, Tesla put into operation Gigafactory - the world’s largest plant to produce lithium-ion batteries.

source: dw.de