In the latest E-Mobility Index report (2Q/2017), consultancy Roland Berger and partner Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen Aachen (fka) find that China has for the first time moved into the pole position. The consultancy says that China will dominate both the market and the industry in the foreseeable future. France, however, has moved past Germany to take the lead in technology, according to the index. The two countries had jointly held the lead in Q1.
The index assess the relative competitive position of the seven leading automotive nations (Germany, France, Italy, the US, Japan, China and South Korea) on the basis of three key indicators: technology; industry; and market.
Technology. The technology indicator encompasses the performance (efficiency, range, charging technology, vehicle concept and safety) and value for money of electric vehicles that are currently available on the market or soon to be launched. The indicator also reflects the scale of national e-mobility R&D programs. Only research grants and subsidies are taken into account (not credit programs for manufacturing, budgets for purchase incentives, etc.).
Industry. The industry indicator reflects cumulative national vehicle production (passenger cars, light commercial vehicles) for the period 2015-2019, taking account of BEVs and PHEVs; as well as cumulative national battery cell production (kWh) for the period 2015-2019.
Market. The market indicator reflects electric vehicles’ current share of the overall vehicle market (over a 12-month period).
Roland Berger and partner fka weight the individual indicators (value range 0-5) and combine them to form the E-mobility Index. The index also reveals the extent to which individual nations are able to benefit from the market that e-mobility is creating.
In 2016, China more than doubled sales of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) to more than 350,000 units. Double-digit sales growth is continuing, with key drivers being government subsidies and simpler licensing procedures.
Added to that, we are seeing many high-tech start-ups in the Chinese market who boast the funding to work their way into the premium segment step by step.—Wolfgang Bernhart, Partner at Roland Berger
Industry. The large production volumes of Chinese domestic manufacturers benefit the nation in the industry rankings. Chinese OEMs will produce some 3.5 million electric vehicles throughout the period 2015-2019 in total.
Ranking second, American OEMs will produce just one third of that volume in the same period. More than 90% of the vehicles are supplied with locally manufactured lithium-ion cells, which serves to make China the world’s leading provider of battery cells in terms of production volume.
The big German OEMs are producing more electric cars. However, what limited local battery production there was in Germany ground to a complete halt in 2016. The whole of Europe trails Asia considerably when it comes to battery production.—Alexander Busse, fka consultant
Market. China is the clear leader with its 2016 sales. France is able to keep pace in spite of a lower sales volume owing to the country's higher share of electric vehicles in the market overall.
Germany manages only fourth place in the market rankings, with approximately 28,000 newly licensed plug-in hybrids and pure EVs in 2016—accounting for no more than 0.8% of the total car market.
This potentially jeopardizes the country‘s ability to comply with the European Union’s fleet emission targets, which have been set for OEMs to meet from 2021 onward. Stronger government incentives and the expansion of fast charging infrastructure in Germany could certainly stimulate the market here.—Stefan Riederle, Roland Berger
Technology. In Germany, the growing proportion of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) is causing the technological capability of electrified vehicles to recede slightly. Plug-in vehicles have a lesser electric range and a lower electrical top-speed than pure BEVs. Given the lower battery capacity, most of them also are equipped with basic charging technology.
Japanese OEMs, in third place in terms of technology, are providing vehicles that combine a high technological level with good value for money. Changes are implemented mainly by modernizing existing model series and enhancing them by adding extra variants with more battery capacity. However, comparatively modest investment in R&D for electromobility keeps Japan from achieving a higher ranking on technology in the index.
US OEMs are abandoning their lighthouse strategy in the high-price segment and instead using fully electric vehicles to position themselves primarily in the mid-range segments, although actual vehicle availability is subject to delays. The continuing dominance of expensive cars in the portfolio leads to comparatively weak technological performance due to a poorer cost/benefit ratio.