Q3 Roland Berger E-Mobility Index finds stagnant sales, lack of concepts to persuade customers to go electric
The latest E-Mobility Index from Roland Berger and Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen (fka) for the third quarter of 2015 finds that the market share of electric vehicles in the seven leading automotive nations—Germany, France, Italy, the USA, Japan, China and South Korea—remains stubbornly low. “The major growth impetus that would anchor e-mobility in the seven leading automotive nations long term is still nowhere to be seen,” the report states.
While insufficient battery range is a part of the reason, more importantly there is a lack of specific concepts that can persuade customers to buy an electric car, the report finds. The index regularly compares the relative competitive standings of the top seven automotive nations in the electromobility segment based on three indicators: technology, industry and market. Key takeaways from this latest analysis include:
While the competitive situation in respect of industry remains largely unchanged, France has taken the lead in terms of technology. With regard to the market, Japan has dropped from second to fourth place, and growth in the USA has also slowed significantly. France has increased its lead still further, while Germany has moved into third place on the back of strong growth. However, the average market share of xEVs in the seven leading automotive nations is stagnating at below 1%.
The lack of coherent sales concepts is partly responsible for the weak sales figures. OEMs are not doing enough to win customers over to BEVs and PHEVs. Strategies are lacking for creating lasting incentives for dealers to sell low-emission vehicles.
xEVs are still underperforming on key customer criteria, especially range. Besides developing a new generation of cells with higher energy density, considerable savings are possible by reducing the energy consumption of auxiliary electric devices, especially in the area of climate control.
Automakers are facing a dilemma, the report states: one the one hand, they need to stay within emission limits in place for the period to 2021 to avoid being hit with fines. A certain proportion of their fleet must be electric for them to achieve this. Yet on the other hand, carmakers are unable to pass on to customers the full extent of the high technological costs incurred in producing these vehicles. OEMs mostly are responding to this dual challenge with a modular system that gives them the medium-term capability to offer electric and hybrid cars in all vehicle classifications.
Besides the lack of a suitable product offering, there are still no convincing concepts that can help OEMs sell electric models.
There’s very little, if any, promotion of electric cars going on. It’s no wonder potential customers are not getting interested in them.—Roland Berger Partner Thomas Schlick
Technology. Roland Berger and fka find that in terms of technology, France has overtaken Japan and is now in pole position. Behind this improvement lies a shift in the model mix of French OEMs in favor of smaller BEVs that offer good value for money. Japan is losing out by comparison because its OEM product portfolios exhibit only marginal technical development in the medium term.
Japanese OEMs have no plans to roll out BEVs and PHEVs on a broad basis; instead, their strategy is to focus on full hybrids. In the meantime, Germany is fast catching up with the three leading countries thanks to the growing share of smaller, more affordable PHEVs.
As a result, German and French OEMs score almost exactly the same in the index despite their very different strategies: German OEMs focus on a broad-based rollout of more technically sophisticated but lower (electrical) range PHEVs, whereas their French rivals focus on small BEVs marketed at aggressive prices.
All other countries remain at the same technical level as before, resulting in an ongoing stabilization of the overall competitive landscape in terms of technology.
Industry. China has improved its position strongly, first from strong growth in xEVs, which is fed largely by domestic production, and then again from the attendant increase in value creation by local cell manufacturers. Japan, on the other hand, has lost out significantly in terms of share of value creation in global xEV production according to the report.
While German OEMs have profited from growing market shares in their core European markets, they have managed to gain market share in the USA and Asia only with a few pure-play electric models.
In terms of cell production, weight is also shifting toward China. In the medium-term, however, the vehicle mix in China will likewise shift toward PHEVs, so China’s share of global cell production will not grow to the same extent as its share of vehicle sales. Sales of xEVs are down strongly in the American and Japanese markets, impacting especially forcibly on Japanese cell manufacturers. However, Korean cell manufacturers must also prepare themselves for lower sales in the medium term. Their clients, mainly from Germany, are shifting strongly toward PHEVs, which makes them worse customers than French and American OEMs, who are more focused on BEVs.
Market. Sales are down in the biggest markets, namely the USA and Japan. In all other markets sales are up substantially on the previous period. The Japanese market has experienced a strong slump, the country falling from second to fourth position, behind third-placed Germany. The situation in Japan is partly caused by their lack of new models, but also reflects the lower strategic importance of BEVs and PHEV in Japanese OEM portfolios.
France was the only country to make it over the 1% mark, putting it well ahead of a stagnating USA. Germany and China have continued to catch up with the leaders. However, the fact that German OEMs have not achieved greater market penetration despite their broader range of xEVs compared to their French, Japanese and American competitors indicates that xEVs are still niche products in all markets.