Electric Vehicle Landscape: Majors Vs. Startups Part 1

Plug-in electric vehicles arena’t going to take over new vehicle sales anytime soon, but the market is having a surprising comeback given that Covid-19 and economic jitters continue. Consumers are looking well beyond the basics, including entertainment during the quarantine, for electric passenger cars, while electric trucks are seeing a bit of movement as well.

While major players are making the headway in sales, startups are coming out of the shadows and playing a role in the market dynamics as well. Electric trucks are getting a lot of interest from investors.

This week: the major automakers are doing well.

Top 10 global EV brands in sales
this year through May

Brand 2021 Units Sold

  1. Tesla 276,459
  2. SAIC-GM-Wuling  161,610
  3. Volkswagen 118,856
  4. BYD 110,427
  5. BMW 105,419
  6. Mercedes-Benz 88,186
  7. Volvo 75,763
  8. SAIC 73,086
  9. Audi 60,763
  10. Peugeot 49,315

Source: InsideEVs

Strong sales of plug-in electric vehicles marked June sales results, and the first six months of this year. US sales more than doubled in the first half compared to that time period in 2020, versus a 29 percent increase of the overall new vehicle sales market.

In China, about 235,000 plug-ins were sold in June, which translated to 15 percent market share for the overall new vehicle sales market in that country. June saw an all-time record for new energy vehicles. About 12 percent of the overall market is battery electric vehicles. The Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV continues to lead the China market.

Europe saw plug-in vehicles taking an even larger share of its overall new vehicle sales than China. At over 237,000 registrations in June, these vehicles made up 19 percent of the total market. Year over year, it was a 157 percent gain in sales for plug-in vehicles sold in the European market.

Tesla numbers looking very good. Much of Tesla’s numbers have been fueled by the new Model Y small crossover taking off. The Model 3’s sales has been dropping and the Model S and Model X have been nearly absent compared to previous strong sales. The Model Y really took in the California market, where crossover SUVs remain popular with drivers.

Tesla Inc. just crossed a threshold on Tuesday when for the first time ever it announced quarterly profits without without counting on the sale of emissions credits to other automakers. Those credits had run out, and in the first quarter, Tesla reported a $534 gain in selling federal credits to competitors. Another gain expressed by Tesla executives was that it’s been able to sidestep the effects of a global chip shortage that has held back production for global automakers. The company will have to continue that sidestep as it attempts to satisfy growing demand for electric vehicles, they said. On the downside, Tesla said it had to once again delay its semitrailer truck, aLready two years late, with deliveries expected in 2022.

Tesla reported about $12 billion in revenue during the second quarter, nearly double Q2 2020. A profit of $1.1 billion was reporting, the eight sequential quarter without a loss.

The biggest surprise in global EV sales has been seeing a Chinese joint venture shoot up in sales since last year. The Wuling HongGuang Mini EV that starts at $4,500 — a tiny, two-door hatchback that seats only four people — has done very well since its introduction a year ago. It debuted in China and has only sold there so far, with plans on shipping it overseas. Its manufactured under a JV between Wuling, SAIC Motor, and General Motors.

SAIC was already a strong player in the market, coming it at 8th place in global EV sales so far this year through its broad lineup. The company did particularly well last year. Sales of its new energy vehicles (NEVs) saw a year-on-year increase of 73.4 percent to 320,000 vehicles in 2020, representing the fastest growth rate and highest sales figures in China. The major Chinese automaker produces EVs under several brands, including joint ventures — Roewe, SAIC Wuling, MG, Maxus, and SAIC VW. The luxury brand Roewe has been particularly important, with its new “R” logo rolled out last year for the Marvel-R electric SUV.

Volkswagen has been pleased to see its ID concept take off. The ID 3 and ID 4 have made up 50,000 units of its total EV sales so far this year through the end of May; though the production process and sales have been slower than analysts had expected for the ID series.

Still, VW is not anywhere near where it had pledged to be by now with 2025 being the lofty benchmark. The German automaker says that over the next 5 years, it will spend about $55 billion electrifying all its brands. In 2025 the company expects 25 percent of its global sales to be battery electric vehicles (BEVs), growing up to 60 percent by the early 2030s. Europe will see an even higher goal to reach, with VW recently raising its sales target for BEVs plus plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in Europe to 70% by 2030, up from 35%. All ICE production for VW brand will stop in Europe by 2035.

BYD Han EV was the Chinese automaker’s top seller with 32,865 units sold January through May. BYD continues to emphasize its fleet/commercial/transit vehicles with more units being sold abroad in the transport bus and commercial truck segments.

Three days ago, the company celebrated the production of the 100,000th Han model, which has been offered in China since Summer 2020 in two versions — all-electric and plug-in hybrid. Soon before that announcement, BYD reported that it sold in China 40,116 passengers plug-in cars, which is 207 percent more than a year ago, and a new monthly record. Plug-in electric vehicles made up about 81 percent of total BYD passenger vehicle sales in June, which matches the 81 percent record from December 2018, the company said.

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler recently said that it plans to invest more than 40 billion euros ($47 billion) by 2030 to be ready to take on Tesla in an all-electric car market, but warned the shift in technology would lead to job cuts. That will come through building eight battery plants with strategic partners as the German automaker ramps up EV production. By 2025, all new vehicle platforms will only make EVs, the German luxury automaker added.

Daimler is in a similar position as VW, Volvo, Audi, Peugeot, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, and other automakers: How do you take on Tesla? While EV sales has been gradually growing for these global automakers, none of them have crossed the tipping point they’d set in recent years to meet stringent government climate change and air quality regulations, and to meet growing demand for clean vehicles and sustainable products among consumer and corporate customers.

BEVs still dominate the global EV market. The top-selling plug-in hybrid in May was the Toyota Prius Prime at 5,850 sold worldwide that month with a similar pattern for the year and BEVs leading the way. There were only four plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in the top 20 during that month.

And in other news………..

Ford announced that Romulus, Mich., will be the home of its new global battery center of excellence – Ford Ion Park – which is accelerating the company’s research and development of battery and battery cell technology – including future battery manufacturing. Ford Ion Park is aimed at driving high-volume battery cell delivery, better range, and lower costs for customers.It represents $100 million of Ford’s $185 million investment in developing, testing, and building vehicle battery cells and cell arrays.

“Ford already is delivering on our plan to lead the electric revolution with strong new vehicles including Mustang Mach-E, 2022 E-Transit available late 2021 and the 2022 F-150 Lightning available from spring next year,” said Anand Sankaran, Ford Ion Park director. “The new lab will help Ford speed up the battery development process to deliver even more capable, affordable batteries and is part of Ford’s renewed commitment to making Michigan a centerpiece of its focus on EVs.”

Amazon-backed electric truck startup Rivian raised $2.5B in its latest funding round amid reports of plans for an initial public offering. The funding round was led by Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, D1 Capital Partners, Ford Motor Co., and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price, according to a statement. Rivian has raised about $10.5 billion overall.

The market for hydrogen power generation technologies is transitioning toward maturity and wider adoption, buoyed by improving economics, growing government support, and demand for clean and reliable power, according to a new Guidehouse Insights report. Since around 2016, the hydrogen economy has gained significant momentum as countries, cities, organizations, and industries look to decarbonize. The emergence of commercially viable hydrogen vehicles and massive investments in electrolyzers for green hydrogen production have pushed hydrogen’s potential to new levels, the study says.

One company is set to tap into these growing market dynamics. Hyzon Motors Inc., a global supplier of hydrogen fuel-cell-powered commercial vehicles, has developed new onboard hydrogen storage system technology that it says is capable of reducing the weight and manufacturing cost of commercial vehicles powered by the company’s hydrogen fuel cells. The new patent-pending onboard hydrogen storage system technology has the potential to reduce the overall weight of the system by 43 percent, storage system costs by 52 percent, and the required manufacturing component count by 75 percent, according to the report.

Tesla expanding access to fast-charging network. CEO Elon Musk recently tweeted that by the end of the year, the electric vehicle maker will be opening up its network of Superchargers to other EVs. Tesla has had a competitive edge with it network of over 25,000 fast chargers at over 2,700 stations globally.

Germany’s transport minister had said he was trying to convince Tesla to go this route; and President Joe Biden’s plans to put in $1.2 trillion on infrastructure, with $7.5 billion going toward EV infrastructure, could also boost efforts to open up EV fast chargers. Charging companies such as Volkswagen’s Electrify America, and Blink Charging Co., EVgo Inc., and ChargePoint, are also building out charging networks across the US.

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