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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.



Only 14,000 electrified vehicles were sold in Canada in the last 12 months. Over 50% (50.4%) of the total were sold in the Québec Province.

The long delays and objections to the East and West Pipelines together with future higher carbon fees in BC, Ontario and Québec (75+% of Canada's population) may help to accelerate the transition. Improved lower cost batteries are a must.

Ontario and Québec will soon agree on the sale of 1,000 to 3,000 mega-watt of Québec hydro power to Ontario to enable the closing of 3 to 6 CANDUs for extended periods for refurbishing and to supply some of the extra (clean) energy required for 20+ years.

Account Deleted

Tesla is the only one who currently gets it. You need to make plug-ins that can compete directly with comparable gassers on price. The only segment that currently is possible is with luxury performance cars. Tesla makes the world best cars in this category and they do not cost more than comparable gassers. This is why the are only restrained by their own ability to supply these cars growing at 50+% per year. The demand problem with the Nissan Leaf or e-Golf is that they are much worse cars than the 37k USD gassers they compete with. So they do not sell of cause as will as the 37k USD gassers.

Long-range, luxury BEV performance cars like those Tesla are making will keep growing at 50% or more per year until about 2020 to 2025 when self-driving BEVs will enable affordable taxi transportation for the average consumer getting people around safely and in comfort for about 15 cents per mile. Most of these self-driving taxis will be one-seaters with room for luggage like groceries or a school back. And anyone who can use a Smartphone and has credit can use them. No driver license needed.

Bob Wallace

We're in the $2k,three pound brick cell phone era of EVs. Affordable EVs have too little range, long range EVs cost too much. We should be in a new era within two years with 200+ mile range EVs selling for about $35k (without subsidy).

We're also at the bottom of yet, another oil price cycle. The Saudis can't keep bleeding cash for too much longer. Gas prices are likely to considerably higher in a few months.

It's not time to worry about EVs sales numbers. Let's see what happens when we get to "flip phones selling for a few hundred".


@bob, you can't really compare batteries to digital semiconductors.
Digital devices are subject to Moore's law which is about the number of transistors per unit area increasing exponentially year by year. This happens because they are processing information, which can be very small. (One bit can be represented by say 25-100 electrons).
Batteries are not like this, they are about bulk charge, and thus they are subject to change based on mass production and process maturation (rather than transistor shrinkage), and so improve at a much slower pace (but certainly measurable).

[ The counter example is the massive price reduction of solar cells where there was a massive drop in price due to a massive increase in production and vicious price competition. (but no real increase in performance). ]

I think batteries will get better, but fairly slowly.
I think the weakness of electric cars is that the batteries tend to be sized to the largest journey (which makes them larger than they really need to be). This is why, IMO, PHEVs are they way to go (for the next 5 years anyway).


This is just the lull before the storm. US sales will double in 2017. CARB mandate ratchets up in 2018, automakers will start selling those cars in 2017. The other shoe will drop when Tesla starts selling Model 3.


When you read about electric vehicle sales stats they sometimes include PHEVs. There is data on PHEVs sold then there is data on EVs sold...don't mix them.


Electrified vehicles include: 1) HEVs, 2) PHEVs, 3) BEVs and 4) FCEVs but not diesel ICEVs.


Give the sales for EVs only.


Sorry, I dont have the data any more but the TESLA was ahead with almost 4,000 units followed by the VOLT and Leaf with about 3,000 each and the other 4,000 units on 10 other units or so.

Seems that HEVs were not included?


Some in Oz have been buying used iMIEVs for around $15k.

I'm taken with the predecessor to the Prius.
The Toyota eCom - a 2 seater EV with an 8 kWh Ni-MH battery-pack.
[This Noddy Car being the small sister of the original EV-RAV4.]

A top speed of 100 kph (?) with an 80 km range were specified.

Would an updated version (with current safety features) sell at a similar price point?
I would certainly be interested in one for urban use.

Bob Wallace

@mahonj -

I'm not saying that batteries will improve at the same rates we seen for semiconductors. Moore's Law, er, Moore's Observation was a doubling every two years. Battery capacity has been increasing about 7% per year which would mean a 10 year doubling. Changing at a different rate.

Battery cost, that's apparently dropping at a faster rate. Not many years back we were talking about $1,000/kWh batteries for EVs, now many are talking $400/kWh while Tesla is apparently paying half that. And with the Gigafactory open the cost of cells is expected to move close to $100/kWh, battery packs $130/kWh. A drop from $1,000 to $130 over a decade is approaching Moore-speed.

BTW, the rapid drop in cellphone costs was not just the rapid drop of semiconductors. Cellphones because 'commodities' with huge economy of scale savings and profits per unit becoming very slim.

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