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Roland Berger E-Mobility Index finds government subsidies for and projected sales of xEVs declining worldwide

The Q1 2013 index (top) shows that the 7 top automotive nations have seen their competitive positions shift since 2012 (bottom). Source: Roland Berger. Click to enlarge.

Despite maturing technology and better cost structures, worldwide production forecasts for electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are in decline, posing a threat to national targets to raise the share of xEVs in vehicle fleets, according to the latest E-mobility Index by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen (fka) for Q1 2013.

The index compares the development of e-mobility in seven leading car-manufacturing nations (Germany, France, Italy, US, Japan, China and South Korea) on the basis of three parameters: technology, manufacturing, and market.

Government support for e-mobility is declining in all the countries surveyed with the exception of China, according to the report. None of the subsidy programs that ended at the end of 2012 were renewed. Additionally, the support that exists is inversely proportional to the increase in these countries’ economic performance—i.e., with subsidies growing more slowly than GDP, the subsidy situation does not benefit from increases in economic output.

Overall, worldwide sales forecasts—and hence the related production forecasts for EVs and PHEVs—are more conservative than in the preceding survey period. Among the seven automotive nations tracked by the index, the share of production in some segments is shifting in favor of individual countries. Since the previous survey, forecasts for vehicle production in Germany, France and South Korea have experienced positive development but remain at comparably low levels. Forecasts for vehicle sales in China, the US and Japan have been corrected downward. Growth in France is attributable above all to significantly higher sales forecasts for the Renault Twizy.

...Negative overall development in the market for EVs and PHEVs, despite mature technologies and optimized cost structures, suggests that the right conditions are not in place. Yet politicians still hold fast to the targets already set to ramp up the market for this class of vehicles—while conceding that realization will be delayed in some cases.

—Roland Berger E-mobility index for Q1 2013

Plug-in America’s #PIA100K
Plug-in vehicle advocacy organization Plug-in America (PIA) recently noted that the US plug-in car market topped the 100,000 unit sales mark sometime this month. Introduction of the latest generation of highway-capable plug-in vehicles began just over two years ago.
Plug In America commemorated the milestone—which PIA calls the #PIA100K mark—with an award contest and by launching a counter on its website that tracks EV sales. The counter, updated using pace of sales data from the most recent published sales reports, currently stands at 100,559.

According to the report, three major challenges still exist to the acceleration of adoption:

  1. xEVs are unattractive to OEMs as a financial proposition. OEMs realize lower margins on the sale of electric vehicles than on vehicles with conventional powertrains. In terms of the total cost of ownership (TCO), partially or fully electrified powertrains are still at a significant cost disadvantage over the entire lifecycle compared to conventional powertrains.

    OEMs experience a shortfall in profit margins if they sell a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) rather than a vehicle with a conventional powertrain. The customer benefits from lower energy costs due to lower fuel consumption, but the OEM is not fully recompensed for the extra cost it incurs. As long as emissions standards and CO2 targets can still be met with optimized internal combustion engines, there is thus no special incentive—marketing reasons aside—for OEMs to place more than the politically required minimum number of xEVs on the market (to comply with market access regulations, for example).

    This is a problem that will hit the e-mobility market even harder if further US fracking projects go ahead, the consultancy says.

    Extracting oil by fracking could stabilize the oil price over the next few years. This would make the cost disadvantage for alternative drives even worse.

    —Roland Berger Partner Thomas Schlick

  2. Battery safety a key area of technology. Apart from attractive cost considerations, customers’ acceptance of EVs also hinges to a large extent on the safety of the vehicles on offer, the report asserts. In this context, the lithium-ion energy storage systems used in most of the EVs and PHEVs currently on the market are safety-critical components. Deformation of or damage to these systems can lead to critical behavior (a fire or an explosion, for instance). Verification of this problem in mechanical tests at cell level, in real accidents (in China and the US) and in crash tests has had a significant negative impact on public perception, according to the analysis.

    To ensure functional operating safety, legislatures have defined clear rules for the approval of EVs (e.g. ECE-R 100). For their part, OEMs are using rigid safety structures to provide passive protection against mechanical stresses on the battery systems. These measures are intended to avoid critical impacts as a result of accidents in the current generation of vehicles. However, these structures increase the weight of the vehicles and thus reduce their range, which is another important factor for customers. Innovative safety concepts for these battery systems are thus a key area in the development of EVs that are both safer and more efficient.

  3. Infrastructure is becoming a global hurdle. The purchasing potential represented by early adopters is now being tapped by the current array of vehicle offerings for both private customers and institutional fleets. Once replacement buyer potential has been exhausted, just how suitable e-mobility is for unrestricted everyday use will come more sharply into focus, the report says.

    The public perception is that the problem of electric vehicles’ limited range has not yet been adequately addressed. Since optimized storage technologies will not be available until after 2020—according to Roland Berger’s analysis—this problem cannot be resolved on the basis of existing technology for pure-play battery electric vehicles. Only the availability of a comprehensive charging infrastructure that also features fast-charging options can address the issue in the interim.

    In this context, Germany, France, China and South Korea have already specified for the kind of charging infrastructures they envisage in the future. However, in view of considerable uncertainties surrounding planning, high required upfront investments and long payback periods, there are currently no business models that would make it attractive for private investors to enter this market.

    Only a lasting public-sector commitment that is understood to be an issue of national importance can elevate battery electric vehicles from a niche functions and establish their role in national vehicle fleets in the long term, according to the consultancy.

In the long term, the consultancy suggests, South Korea, Germany and France will increase their share in global xEV production. OEMs in these countries are catering to customer preferences more than their competitors in positioning their vehicles, according to the analysis; their products offer better value for money than those of US and Japanese competitors.

South Korea is still out in front in terms of technology, according to the report, although the considerable lead it used to enjoy over France and Germany has been eroded, mainly because subsidy programs have not been renewed.

While South Korea and Japan still have the most advanced vehicle technology, Germany has improved its value for money, according to the report. The reverse is true in the US, where dwindling overall sales and a shift toward more expensive models are resulting in lower value for money.



Energy and transportation shifts are slow and long term changes , so no surprise here, the technology of EVs is not ready for mass market therefore it is no surprise that forecast are being cooled down once the hype has started to dissipate. In the same time we see it happening, just more slowly that some are trumpeting regularly here...


One has to look how Toyota is doing it to appreciate how progressive, step by step, vehicle electrification should be done:

1) First Level (HEVs), from 1998/2000 or so, for 20+ years

2) Second Level (PHEVs) from 2010/12 or so, for 20+ years (*)

3) Third Level (BEVs) from (2016/18) or so, for 100++ years

(*) PHEVs may use ICEs generator or FCs as range extender.
PHEVs, with FC range extenders, may be the preferred technology for heavy vehicles for many decades.

(**) All 3 technologies may overlap for a few years.

The transition from ICEVs to electrified vehicles will gain speed when improved batteries and affordable FC range extenders hit the market place.


Sometimes you just can't believe what you read, especially if there are conclusions favoring Internal Consumption Engines.

But, I agree adoption will be slow because the right car isn't out there yet. What's the right car you ask? I believe the right car is a $20,000 BEV that will go an honest 150 miles at 65 mph. And, that will take a higher density battery than those mass produced currently.


EV technology is ready for the mass market. Safety and infrastructure issues are hoaxs. The real issue is profits. The first point is more correct. Car companies won't makes as large a profit on EVs. Note that the car companies will make a profit, just not enough for their greedy black hearts. By the way, a doubling of battery capacity is coming and lower cost is coming too.

Actually, because of the production costs of fracked oil, the price of oil has been permanently pinned high. If oil drops below $80 a barrel, all those fracking outfits will be losing money. If they lose money they stop producing. If they stop producing supply goes down and price goes up.

I would actually say that it is the threat of alternatives that has stabilized the oil market, not fracking. If the car companies would actually mass produce EVs, their costs would drop significantly and besides getting lower fuel costs the cars would cost less too. So instead of paying 3.75 per gallon you would be paying 1.25 per gallon equivolent and with a lower priced vehicle.

Although, that is not what you all have been trained to do. You know your job is to consume and consume what your leaders (insert industrial masters) want you to consume.


Yet another one of these crystal ball reports. You know, I might print it out just for the satisfaction of throwing it into the fire. How many of these self proclaimed 'cool-headed realists' predicted that Tesla would crash and burn? Sometimes, this world behaves differently than the spreadsheet says.



I don't think anybody here predicted that Tesla would "crash and burn" Tesla is making Luxury cars powered by battery computer so are on niche market,but look at Nissan Renault their sale is behind their forecast though they were adamant of EV


Lad...the right car (EV) you mentioned will not come before the 5-5-5 battery program has achieved the objectives (by 2018/2020) or so.

The ideal EV will come after the 10-10-10 battery program has achieved the objectives (by 2020++ or so)



Of course I wasn't talking about the people here. I was talking about the analysts and many other bloggers.

The slow sales of Nissan's LEAF in 2012 was due to the strong Yen. Now they build the car in the US and UK, prices have dropped and sales increase.

Oh, and apparently, the Zoe is selling quite well in France:


The report basically says that there is a "Negative overall development in the market for EVs and PHEVs", in spite of increasing sales.

It's a particularly twisted argument, because they state that "forecasts for sales (...) have been corrected downward." You need to read that one twice to see what it actually means: sales are up, forecasts see continuing increases, but not as fast as other earlier forecasts claimed.

In other words, those who made wishful predictions about (exponential!) EV uptake were wrong. Most of us knew that at the time, and we still do now. That doesn't mean that EVs are wrong, just that empty-headed EV evangelists are wrong.


Watch carefully what Toyota is doing for a better outlook of the future for electrified vehicles.


I think EVs are here to stay and will be popular over time. Of course we can always review this comment over the coming years and have a good laugh.

At any rate, I believe people will see that they do not need a long range for most trips, batteries will improve and costs will come down. However, there ARE barriers to acceptance.

People to not change rapidly something that has evolved over time. They want dependable and affordable transport that does EVERYTHING that they do now, but better and cheaper. That does not describe EVs, so a change in expectations is called for, that takes time.


"Roland Berger E-Mobility Index finds government subsidies for and projected sales of xEVs declining worldwide"

Duh I wonder why?

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