So many factors have been driving the rapid development of electric vehicle (EV) industry and market development, especially our earth is suffering unprecedented environmental challenges. Under international governments’ strong policy supports, automakers’ vigorous efforts in product development, technology advancements (especially in battery), consumer awareness etc., are effectively driving up sales of different types of EVs (including pure- electric and plug-in hybrid cars) worldwide.
In 2017, over 1.2 million EVs were sold worldwide, an increase of 58% over 2016, according to Automotive Research & Testing Center (ARTC), the most important transportation-vehicle testing and R&D institute in Taiwan. Top-five EV national markets last year were China, the U.S., Norway, Japan and Germany.
Top-5 EV Markets
As the world’s largest national market for EVs, some 600,000 new EVs were licensed in China last year, up 71% from a year earlier, creating a huge leading distance from other major markets, though the Chinese government cut its subsidizes to the consumers and intensify the qualification requirements for EV makers. The nation also promulgated a ‘quota’ system for automakers in August, 2017, requiring
them to continue upgrading vehicle fuel efficiency, while encouraging production and sales of new- energy vehicles.
Thanks to continued launches of new or facelift EV models by vendors such as Tesla, Nissan, Toyota etc., sales of new EVs in the U.S. increased by 26% to some 200,000 units in 2017. The volume is expected to continue to peak to a new high in 2018, in conjunction with a series new models featuring higher affordability and longer cruise range. However, federal government’s subsidizing programs to EV buyers are expected to gradually phase out after an individual company reaches accumulated EV sales volume of 200,000 units. That means, General Motors (GM) and Tesla might outstrip the threshold this year.
With the highest penetration ratio in the world, Norway has been the most vital EV market in Europe. Sales ratio of EV comparing to traditional international combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the country topped to 39% in 2017, from 2.5% in previous year.
Replacing Germany and the U.K., Japan became the No. 4 largest EV market in 2017 by registering about 56,000 units sold, a 150% increase over previous year. The nation’s eye-catching sales growth
can be attributed to Toyota’s launch of the new Prius PHV, which can run up to 68.2 km on pure-electric mode, and achieve a 37.2km/L fuel economy (JC08).
German government provides a quite high subsidy to EV buyers, including up to 4,000 euro to pure- electric, and up to 3,000 to hybrid, and achieved an annual EV sales volume of some 53,000 units, up 97% year-on-year. German automakers’ aggressive new EV model introduction also facilitated sales growth.
National Subsidizing Programs
Basically, at least now, smooth EV sales are resulted from government incentives, which can be clearly seem in the top-5 markets. lead to good EV sales, China saw a 240% EV-sales increase in 2015 (to some 330,000 units), but the real reason was the government’s subsidizing programs had led to many fraud cases. So, the nation decided to modify its new-energy vehicle industry policies, and mapped out more stringent subsidizing standards in late 2016, so as to effectively help upgrade EV technologies and prevent false application cases. The government also hopes the gradually-thinning subsidizes can help the market back to the normal mechanism healthily.
The U.S. government adopts income-tax deduction to stimulate EV sales, so as to simplify the subsidizing mechanism, while lowering the treasury burden. But the 200,000-unit subsidizing threshold for an individual EV vendor is expected to clearly impact on the EV sales of some companies already close to the ceiling.
Norwegian government levies very high taxes on ICE vehicles, but only owner-friendly rates on EV buyers. In addition, EV drivers are free from highway, ferry, and city-emission tolls, while can enjoy free parking and driving on bus lanes etc. privileges.
Worldwide new-EV sales hit a new peak in 2017, and consumers saw more options lunched by global automakers. Top-10 best-selling EV models last year in sequence were: BAIC EC-Series (78,079 units sold), Tesla Model S (54,715), Toyota Prius PHV (50,830), Nissan Leaf (47,195), Tesla Model X (46,535), Zhi Dou D2 (42,342), Renault Zoe (31,932), BMW i3 (31,410), BYD Song PHEV (30,920), and Chevrolet Bolt (27,982).
In China, the EC-series achieved eye-catching sales result thanks mainly to its friendly pricing, about 49,800 to 55,800 RMB (after subsidies). The A00-class (wheelbase 2.0-2.2m) pure-electric car is powered by ternary lithium-ion battery (EC 180 model) with energy capacity of 20.3kWh, which can create a cruise range of 156km and maximum speed of over 100kph.
Some 55,000 Tesla Model S were sold last year, up only 7% from 2016, because the EV maker decided to spare part of Model S’ production capacity to digest flooding demand for Model X and Model 3. Though there is no version-change schedule in these two years, Model S’ super-long cruise range of 632km, and continually updated Autopilot system have been making it a market hit.
Toyota Prius PHV has a range of 68.2km in pure- electric driving mode, and its dual-motor drive system further enhance its acceleration in pure-electric mode.
Nissan Leaf, the long-term No.1 EV model, fell to No. 4 place due mainly to its version-change plan affected the sales of 2017-version model. However, the 2018 Nissan Leaf is still one of the most anticipated
pure-electric car, thanks to its upgraded output of 110kW (from 80kW), battery capacity of 40kW (30kW), and cruise range of 400km (250km), and new technologies such as e-Pedal (electronic throttle) and ProPILOT (adaptive cruise control, ACC & automatic parking).
Annual sales volume of Tesla Model X reached 46,500 units in 2017, up 84% from previous year; while the figure of No. 6 Zhi Dou D2 was about 42,000.
EV Makers’ Biz Deployments
Amid increasingly fierce market competition, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance won the highest share of 9.8% in 2017 by vending about 119,000 units; comparing to the No.2 Chinese player BYD’s 9.3% or about 114,000 units. The No. 3 to No. 5 were BAIC (8.6% or 105,000 units), Geely (8.4% or 103,000 units), and Tesla (8%), respectively.
After Mitsubishi burst out a scandal in 2016 by announcing false fuel-economy index, Nissan took the advantage by purchasing a 34% stake in Mitsubishi and taking over sales territory of the popular Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in Europe. Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi then formed an alliance in 2017 and announced to launch 12 pure-electric car models by 2022; as well as announced to elevate the EV production ratio of the alliance to 30%. The alliance has mapped out a series targets for EV models to be launched, including cruise range up to 600km, battery-pack downsizing, faster charging time (15 minutes for a range of 230km) etc.
BYD of China has announced a goal to sell 200,000 new EVs in 2018, and the company has launched a comprehensive lineup for both plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and pure-electric segments. To further leverage cost advantage for sales-volume increase,
BYD has turned its eye on ternary lithium-ion battery technology, instead of the Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) adopted in the past few years. According to BYD, its annual lithium-ion cell production capacity has topped 16GWh by the end of 2017, including 10GWh LFP and 6GWh of ternary lithium cells. In 2018, the Chinese firm will further expand its ternary- cell capacity to 10GWh, while use such battery on all new models to be unveiled.
American EV maker Tesla has been rapidly developing sales by targeting at market niches, and it did quite well. The firm kicked off try production of its Model 3 in July, 2017, after won orders for over 140,000 on the first launch day in 2016. The Model 3 offers a standard version with cruise range up to 352km, and a higher-grade version up to 496km.
In November 2017, Tesla announced the long- anticipated electric truck “Semi”, which is claimed to be the safest, most comfortable truck ever. Four independent motors provide maximum power and acceleration and require the lowest energy cost. The truck features quickest acceleration—from 0-60 mph in 20 seconds, fully loaded; and a range up to 800km etc. Enhanced Autopilot helps avoid collisions, a centered driver position provides maximum visibility and control, and a low center of gravity offers rollover protection.
Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla, disclosed in 2017 that his company will launch a crossover model based on a new powertrain platform featuring simplified structures, lower production cost, and higher production efficiency, in 2020.
Tesla has also announced its second-generation Tesla Roadster electric sport-car, which takes only 1.9 second for 0-60 mph.
BMW Group of Germany announced in 2017 that it would introduce 12 pure-electric and 13 PHEV models by 2025, and stressed the EV lineup would account for an increasingly high share among products. That means, the group is expected to have a big potential in future EV market, as BMW sells only i3 pure- electric, and several PHEV models.
Taiwan’s EV Development
To reduce air pollution, Taiwanese government has okayed the “Air Pollution Control Action Plan” in 2017, which will be executed in three stages. Targeting at achieving 100% of the new PTWs (powered-two- wheelers) sold will be electric-powertrain by 2035, and automobiles by 2040, the action plan also aims at replacing all the government fleet and public- buses by EVs before 2030. In the short term, the government has claimed to replace 10,000 public buses currently operated in different cities throughout Taiwan, with a subsidy of US$130,000 to US% 170,000 to each vehicle replaced.
EV buyers in Taiwan will enjoy commodity- and license-tax reductions, and the incentives cover all e-scooters, pure-electric passenger cars, electric taxis, and public buses (with a reduction-value ceiling of US$46,666 for each vehicle). The congress has also passed to extend the license-tax holiday for EV owners (including e-scooter) to the end of 2021.
Via industry promotion programs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has commissioned different research institutes in Taiwan to help local EV-related companies develop key parts and systems, as well as explore international market. More than one hundred of such subsidizing projects have been carried out, and the EV supply-chain in Taiwan is expected to be built.
World’s 1st On-Track/Off-Road Electric Supercar
An eye-catching example in Taiwan devoted into assembled-EV is XING Mobility, a Taipei-based electric powertrain startup that debuted the company’s first electric road-legal supercar, the Miss R, in 2017. In 2018, XING Mobility released initial testing footage of Miss R, the 1,341hp rally-inspired supercar. The world’s first electric supercar with on-road and off- road capabilities, the vehicle was tested on a wide variety of terrains, including thrashing down a rough gravel path, showcasing its capability on all terrains as well as its four-wheel torque vectoring agility.
At the 2018 AutoTronics Taipei show held in April, where Miss R was displayed alongside her commercial- purpose brother, a 3.5 ton electric transit vehicle referred to internally by the team as “Mr T”. The converted light-duty truck was designed as a showcase of XING Mobility’s fully integrated electric drivetrain technology. Consisting of 6,300 lithium-ion 18650 cells in 150 reconfigurable and immersive- cooled battery modules and equipped with a 350V high power density induction motor, the vehicle represents XING’s mission of empowering any and every vehicle maker of any size to go electric.