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ABI: 2021 will be the year EVs begin entry into the automotive mainstream

2021 will kickstart a decade of growing Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption, which will see EV sales move from a rounding error of total new vehicle shipments to more than a quarter of new vehicles shipping in 2030, according to global tech market advisory firm ABI Research.

In its new whitepaper, 68 Technology Trends That Will Shape 2021, ABI Research’s analysts identify 37 trends that will shape the technology market and 31 others that, although attracting huge amounts of speculation and commentary, are less likely to move the needle over the next twelve months.

The transition from niche to mainstream for EVs will be built on the introduction of low-cost EV models that satisfy the typical mileage requirements at an acceptable price point, ABI says.

Models slated to be introduced to market over late 2020/2021 include the Koda Enyaq iV, delivering a 316-mile range with a starting price of €33,800 and the SEAT Cupra el-Born delivering a 310-mile range. Both models demonstrate the spread of VW’s modular MEB EV-specific platform throughout VW’s brands.

Although EVs still command a cost premium over Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) equivalents, high-volume models, such as those based on the MEB platform, the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai IONIQ electric, and the Tesla Model 3, will be key to making EVs a viable option for the typical consumer.

OEMs will need to develop more innovative approaches to the life cycle management of EVs, ABI adds. Smart charging technologies, support for occasional Direct Current (DC) fast charging, and battery management will be critical in supporting mainstream consumers in their transition from ICEs to EV ownership.

In the whitepaper, ABI also suggests that C-V2X should go into production in 2021. After Volkswagen launched the Golf equipped with 802.11p/Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) in late 2019, 2021 seems to be the year of Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X).

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a C-V2X mandate in November 2019 and has recently announced its intention to transitioning the upper 30 megahertz of the 5.9 GHz band from DSRC to C-V2X. This is expected to have a significant impact on the deployment of C-V2X in the United States.

For example, since the first announcement, Audi, VDOT, Qualcomm, Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), and Commsignia have been developing together C-V2X technologies that can be readily introduced to roadways using the 5.9 GHz wireless communications band. Moreover, Audi expects to complete a C-V2X project that involves two applications that improve safety in school zones and around school buses by 2021.

What won’t happen in 2021 is the return of new vehicle shipments to business as usual, according to ABI.

The first half of 2020 saw the market for new vehicles implode, contracting by around 70%. COVID-19 and the measures taken to contain the spread of the virus dealt a double blow to the already faltering automotive market, disrupting supply chains and depriving the industry of the bricks-and-mortar retail environment on which it heavily relies.

Moving into 2021, however, the automotive industry should not expect a return to the new vehicle sales volumes of recent years. The market size is expected to remain subdued until 2024 given the prospect of repeated lockdowns, long-term remote working, and a bleak macroeconomic outlook.

—James Hodgson, Smart Mobility & Automotive Principal Analyst at ABI Research


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