by Zachary Shahan
Published on Wednesday, 7 November 2018
Tesla has busted open the mainstream electric vehicle market. The problem is, approximately 17 million passenger vehicles are sold per year in the USA, the number globally is around 100 million, and there’s no way in the netherworld Tesla could produce 17–100 million cars per year on its own by 2030. Yes, Chinese automakers are ramping up electric vehicle production faster than automakers in the US and Europe, but they aren’t taking over the world anytime soon either.
Even if Tesla rises to 10 million vehicles a year at some point in the next 10+ years, that could leave 90 million vehicles per year that other automakers need to electrify.
We need a rapid shift to electric cars (and other clean technologies) or we’re massively screwed. So, the message is clear: we need large automakers to follow Tesla’s lead.
I recently published a summary view of the electric vehicle plans of the world’s 3 largest automakers and then automakers #4–7 and then automakers #8–10. Per reader request, here’s all 10 of them together. (Note: the rankings and sales figures are based on 2017 sales.)
Toyota (market cap $170 billion) revealed at the end of 2017 that it would be marketing and selling more than 10 all-electric vehicle models around the world by the early 2020s. It said it would be investing approximately ¥1.5 trillion ($13 billion) into the development of battery technology through 2030, if not more than that.
A more recent announcement in April of 2018 mentioned 10 electrified models by the end of 2020. “Electrified” can mean fully electric, plug-in hybrid (PHEV), or even conventional hybrid models. Toyota appears to be referencing plug-in vehicles of some sort here. Sometime in the early 2020s, Toyota intends to have 10 fully electric cars on the market.
At the moment, Toyota doesn’t sell any fully electric cars. The car with the biggest battery that it sells today, its only plug-in car, is the Prius Prime.
The next three plug-in vehicles Toyota has coming are Chinese PHEV versions of the Corolla and Levin in 2019, followed by a fully electric compact SUV based on its C-HR or IZOA in 2020.
Based on conflicting statements from the company, it’s unclear how many fully electric cars and how many plug-in hybrids Toyota is bringing to market in the next 3–5 years. It’s also unclear how many fully electric models will be sold outside of China — in North America, Europe, South America, Africa, or Australia. What is known is that Asia is a priority thanks to China’s strong EV policies. Toyota’s first all-electric cars will go to China first, and then Japan, India, the US, and Europe.
How much battery supply will Toyota have by 2020, 2025, and so on? We don’t know. Presumably, it won’t have enough supply to match demand for a long time, as that has been the trend for all automakers producing compelling or even sort of compelling electric cars. Update: Toyota intends to sell 1 million fully electric cars (BEVs + FCEVs) per year by 2030.
It seems unlikely that Toyota will all of a sudden produce electric cars that are compelling enough to reach 1 million sales a year in the next few years, and even if it does, it doesn’t seem that it would have the battery supply to reach 1 million sales a year. Toyota, surprise us if you can! We need you.
Volkswagen (market cap $78 billion) appears to be the most bullish about a transition to fully electric vehicles.
The German giant plans to be producing 50 fully electric models by 2025. To help achieve that, it intends to invest €35 billion ($40 billion) into electric car tech — largely batteries — by 2022.
It expects to be selling approximately 2–3 million electric cars a year by 2025, with those cars making up approximately 20–25% of the company’s sales.
With these goals in mind, It seems that Volkswagen is the company most likely to surpass Tesla in electric car sales by 2025. However, there’s a strong case to be made that Tesla will be selling more than 3 million cars a year by 2025. In other words, there’s a strong chance no automaker passes up Tesla.
One other positive point about Volkswagen on this topic is that it appears to be flying into fully electric cars, not wasting much time on plug-in hybrids. That’s another point that strongly makes the case Volkswagen sees electric cars as the future and wants to be a leader into that future within a few years.
The plug-in cars Volkswagen Group is currently selling include 6 plug-in hybrids and 2 fully electric cars sold in Europe in moderate volumes but elsewhere in tiny volumes. The company has a long way to go to get up to a million electric cars a year, but we’ll see how that changes within a year or two.
The Hyundai/Kia combo (market cap $30 billion), which is probably not the company you expected to be in the #3 spot, has yet another approach from the two companies above. It has taken the approach of offering hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fully electric versions of new models. As it turns out, the fully electric versions have so far been much more popular than the company anticipated, but a shortage of batteries has led to many fewer sales than consumers would like. (It’s quite hard to get your hands on a fully electric Hyundai or Kia model all around the world.)
Like other companies, big long-term announcements were made at the end of 2017. Hyundai and Kia announced that they aim to bring 38 “green car” models to market in the next 8 years, with 7 of them planned for the next 5 years. (That means 31 of the 38 are planned for 6–8 years from now, which means that Hyundai/Kia is just leaving the starting line.)
How many of those models will be fully electric? One report, linked above, said it should be the majority of them. Another report, from earlier in 2017, expected it to be 8 of the 31 (which was the total target at that time). The report also stated that Hyundai/Kia planned to be second to only Toyota in green car sales by 2020 — but, again, we don’t have a clue what percentage of sales are expected to be plug-in cars, let alone fully electric cars, and not many people these days consider conventional hybrid cars to be “green cars.”
We also don’t know how much money Hyundai/Kia is investing into EV development or batteries, and we don’t know what percentage or total number of sales it expects from its plug-in models in any coming year.
Hyundai/Kia plug-in vehicles currently include the Kia Soul EV, Kia Optima PHEV, Kia Niro EV, Kia Niro PHEV, Hyundai Kona EV, Hyundai Kona PHEV, Hyundai Ioniq EV, Hyundai Ioniq PHEV, and Hyundai Sonata PHEV.
How many electric cars will Hyundai and Kia produce in 2023? 500,000? 1 million?
GM (market cap $46 billion) will be the second company to sell 200,000 electric vehicles in the US, which triggers the phaseout of the US federal tax credit for EVs. That said, its Chevy Bolt EV and Chevy Volt PHEV have seen sales tank this year. It appears that GM is going to walk across the 200,000-vehicle finish line for the silver medal.
GM has a plan to be producing 10 electric vehicle models by 2020 … in China. Furthermore, it intends to launch another 10 models between 2021 and 2023 … in China.
Presumably, some of those electric car models will also be available in the US and Europe, but we don’t have many clues on that.
One special note about these plans is that all 20 models are supposed to be fully electric vehicles, not “electrified” hybrids. Another special note is that some of them will be fuel cell electric vehicles, which I consider to be a waste of time and money, but that’s the plan for now. In any case, the story is clear: 20 electric models are on the way for China, and maybe elsewhere.
GM CEO Mary Barra last year announced as well that they aim to have battery cell costs down to $100/kWh by 2021. Tesla is reportedly at that figure this year.
We don’t have information about any large GM investments in battery technology, just a $28 million investment into battery development and testing near Detroit, so it’s unclear if GM is investing much into batteries to bring costs down or if it is just counting on suppliers like LG Chem to get the job done.
Related, but probably overlooked by most, Barra indicated the company intends to be producing profitable electric cars by 2021. This seems to again trail Tesla, which just made a quarterly profit and is expected to do so indefinitely going forward.
What does all of this mean? How many electric cars does GM intend to be producing by 2020 or 2023? Well, it seems highly unlikely the target is high. Perhaps 1 million a year by 2023? Perhaps?
Ford (market cap $36 billion) has made an interesting move. It has decided to ditch cars in the US, aside from its iconic Mustang. Retreating from the car market just as Tesla is gobbling much of it up, Ford will now focus its efforts on inefficient trucks and SUVs.
Ford’s big EV announcement, made in January 2018, is that it intends to be selling 40 electrified models by 2025. The problems that make that less exciting than it sounds are: 1) again, some (or many) of those models are just for China, and 2) “electrified” includes conventional, out-of-date, non-plug-in hybrids. Of the 40, only 16 will actually be electric models. But, hey, 16 beats the company’s current 3 (two of which are plug-in hybrids).
One of those models will be an all-electric SUV, but as with other models, we don’t have any info on price, range, or targeted production capacity. Given that Ford’s EV sales totally suck, it’s hard to expect much from the company by 2025, let alone 2023. In fact, it’s hard to see how Ford doesn’t tank financially by 2023 given its slow-walk into the EV future.
There was also hope that Ford would somehow pull a rabbit out of its hat and jump into a leadership position in the electric pickup truck segment, but it turns out the electrified Ford F-150 is supposed to just be a hybrid, and the same for the electrified version of the Mustang. Frankly, it’s hard to see how anyone can think the Mustang competes against the Tesla Model 3, so it’s hard to envision a bright future for the Mustang — but then again, millions of people voted for Donald Trump, a career con man.
Ford’s investment in electrified models is supposed to reach $11 billion by 2022, which is a notable increase from the $4.5 billion by 2020 that it pledged in 2015. It’s on par with some of the companies with the biggest public announcements about EV investments, but it’s still far lower than the $40 billion that Volkswagen plans to invest by 2025 — unless Ford will put in another $29 billion from 2022 to 2025, which I guess is possible … maybe.
Can we count on Ford trying to compete with Tesla and target 1 million electric cars a year by 2020, or at least 2023? Of course not. How about by 2025? Well, that would be a depressing start, but it would be something.
Regarding Nissan (market cap $35 billion), suffice it to say that this is perhaps the electric vehicle producer most intent on beating Tesla to 1 million electric cars a year. Can it win that race? Probably not, especially since its plan is for 1 million electrified vehicles a year by 2022 and Tesla’s plan is to produce 1 million fully electric vehicles by 2020–2021. But at least we again have a firm target from an automaker — the first actual EV sales target of some sort since Volkswagen’s target of 3 million electric cars a year by 2025. Actually, outside of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and Tesla, it seems there are no other auto companies with clear or at least public electrified, plug-in, or fully electric car sales targets. Perhaps it is hard to estimate how many cars you will sell when you don’t know much about the models you’ll be offering or where you’ll get the batteries.
There’s a strong case to treat the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance as one company, as Volkswagen Group is. But I decided to keep them separate for the purpose of this piece. That said, the Alliance plans to release 12 new pure electric vehicles by 2022 and hopes to see a 30% decrease in battery cost from 2016 to 2022. Presumably, it is similarly targeting ~3 million electric vehicle sales a year by 2025, if not 2023 or 2024.
As usual, it all comes down to the batteries, and it’s still unclear what Nissan or The Alliance’s battery plans are through 2023.
Honda, Honda, Honda. Well, we don’t really have much to write about here. Honda (market cap $47 billion) intends to have a compact EV on the market in Japan by 2020. Presumably, it will also have to roll out several electric models in order to see half-decent sales in China.
In 2017, Honda unveiled a Vision 2030 plan-like thingie. However, that seems to mean Honda was really late to the party. We don’t have any real insight into an electric Vision 2020, Vision 2023, or Vision 2025.
Honda is supposed to start taking reservations for the Urban EV concept pictured above in early 2019 and start producing it in late 2019. There’s also the Honda Everus EV concept targeted at China. Beyond that?
Unless Honda plans to go out of business, I don’t think we’ll have to wait till 2030 for some notable electric vehicles from the automaker. The problem is, I don’t see much on the horizon.
Hmm, Fiat Chrysler — anyone home?
This company (market cap $25 billion) is a little hard to read. Sergio Marchionne, who recently passed on, was heavily opposed to electrifying the fleet. The 500e has been quite popular in California, but has been sold almost nowhere else. Other than that, the company decided the best approach was to sit on its hands until forced to do more.
Chrysler then rolled out a plug-in hybrid Pacific minivan that has been pretty popular and is highly competitive with other versions of the Pacific (it’s the better option, actually, so it’s hard to see why other versions are being sold at all).
After it became clear any automaker that wanted to stick around would need to electrify to a serious degree, Fiat Chrysler announced (earlier this year) that it would put $9 billion into “building cars that have electric motors,” as Steve Hanley put it. “It says it will have 30 models with some degree of electrification on the road by 2022, although the suspicion is the majority of those will be conventional hybrids, with a few plug-in hybrids and one or two battery electric cars thrown in to burnish the company’s image.” Again, transportation policy in China and Europe is driving the shift.
More details will be forthcoming, someday.
Renault (market cap $20 billion) isn’t a household name in the United States, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most Americans didn’t even know what kind of products it sold, but it is a major automaker in Europe and globally. Also, it has long been an electric car leader. The Renault Zoe has been Europe’s top selling electric car multiple times, including in 2017 and 2016. So far in 2018, it is #2, behind only the refreshed Nissan LEAF.
Naturally, with that kind of history, there’s a lot of expectation that Renault will be an EV leader in the future.
While the Renault Zoe has long been a top seller, there has been disappointment that the French company hasn’t rolled out more competitive EVs in recent years. Of course, there’s also the Kangoo Van ZE, but what about passenger electric cars? And what about new mobility options? What’s around the corner?
It’s hard to say. There’s this EZ-PRO thingie for last-mile delivery, which is wild and sort of cool looking but hard to envision being a major hit.
There’s also an EZ-GO thingie … that may go somewhere.
Getting a little more into nuts and bolts and discussing what drives much EV leadership, let’s talk batteries. Renault, like some other major automakers, has made an interesting move this year and shifted its battery business to CATL — well, some of it at least. CATL is a giant Chinese battery producer that has been soaking up contracts with major automakers, many of whom presumably think such batteries will help their future EV models to be more competitive. The question I’ve been having lately is whether such companies are relying too heavily on this company, or a combination of this company and LG Chem. We’ll see.
Another complication in the Renault story is its complicated and evolving relationship with Nissan. Some are expecting that Renault and Nissan will integrate more in order to fulfill their true potential. Will Renault take advantage of Nissan’s EV leadership soon in order to perform even better in the EV market? Could it sell 500,000 electric cars a year by 2023?
Groupe PSA (market cap $21 billion) is a fascinating and unpredictable story since it seems to be in the middle of an internal revolution.
It landed near the back of the EV race after it acquired Opel from GM but discovered much less value in eletcric powertrains and models than expected. But what’s happening now?
Groupe PSA — which includes the brands Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall — says there will be 15 electrified versions of new cars coming out within a couple of years, starting in 2019. “Eight will be new PHEVs, including the DS 7 Crossback E-tense 4×4, Peugeot 3008, Peugeot 508 and 508 SW, Citroën C5 Aircross, Vauxhall Grandland X, Opel Grandland X. Additionally, seven new electric models are expected. One of those will be the DS 3 Crossback E-tense, the first vehicle of the new electric generation that was just revealed.” One will also be an electric Citroen C4, in 2020.
How competitive will all of these models be? Does PSA have batteries lined up at a large scale? Does it intend to sell as many as possible or the bare minimum to meet EU regulations? Given that the plans were seemingly thrown together at the 11th hour (an EV unit was formed at the beginning of April) and based on comments like these and these, I can’t say I’m optimistic, but I’ll hold out some hope — what else can we do?
Here’s a summary of these companies’ market caps today (in billions):
Tesla’s market cap is $56 billion. Let’s check back in a few years and see how these figures change?
As far as sales, could we optimistically hope for 8 million plug-in cars a year from these brands by 2023? 10 million? 3 million?