Analyzing the Top 10 Electric Vehicle Brands
Electric vehicle sales have breached the 2 million unit mark internationally in 2016, and most automakers have committed to an electric vehicle strategy, some more aggressive than others and in the minority of cases not having a strategy is also seen to be a strategy. The Top 10 Electric Vehicle Brands constitutes a good proxy to evaluate trends within the market and to determine the reason for a brand’s success or failure. Also, as we reach the halfway mark to the point where electric vehicles are expected to reach between 9% and 11% of the total vehicle fleet by 2025, a look into the Top 10 will provide guidance on the expected winners and losers as the disruptive nature of the technology takes effect.
Top 10 Electric Vehicle Brands as a percentage of the total market
Sales of the Top 10 Electric Vehicle Brands constitute 65% of all electric vehicle (EV’s) sales, and for the Top 10 BEV list, 85% of all pure electric or Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV’s) are from the Top 10 Brands in the segment. However, the trend on both lists is on the decline as more and more brands participate in the market. The Top 10 Brands in the pure electric space owns a bigger percentage of the market segment as BEV’s requires more specialization and greater risk. Due to the high cost of battery technology and range anxiety, most automakers excluded themselves from the pure electric segment, providing a golden opportunity for a few dedicated brands to seize the opportunity and leapfrog their competitors into the coming decade.
Top 10 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Brands
The following interesting point emerges when comparing the Top 10 Electric Vehicle Brands positions in 2012 with the overall standings and the latest standings in 2016:
- Chevrolet’s annual sales in 2016 are only marginally higher (1.7% CAGR) than it’s sales back in 2012, while the automaker nearly lost its position on the Top 10 list, regaining some stature in 2016 through a nearly doubling of its Chevrolet Volt sales.
- Nissan remained successful with its only passenger model, the Nissan Leaf while sales of the commercial van, the e-NV200 only amounts to around 8,500 units internationally. Having only one model over the period, however, cost the automaker its overall top spot to Tesla and BYD who had two models or more with multiple configurations.
- Tesla’s overall position is significant, especially if one take into consideration the price point of its models compared to its competitors on the Top 10 list.
- The rise of Tesla and BYD, being of the few companies which only focus on electric vehicles, goes to show the advantage dedicated and focussed EV manufacturers have over those that are tied to combustion vehicles. Both these companies are now busy with second and third generation products going into the third decade of the century, at a time when most competitors will only bring their first pure electric models to market.
- Toyota has been the disappointment on the list, giving up the first-mover advantage it had with the Toyota Prius. Toyota is one of the automakers who’s strategy veered away from electric vehicles to Fuel Cell Vehicles. The company discontinued its Prius model in 2015 and brought it back in 2017, with hardly any significant increase in battery performance.
- BMW’s strategy to early on bring Plug-in Hybrid versions off most of its models has helped the company climb in the rankings. Most of the sales of the German automaker can be attributed to the BMW i3 and BMW i3REx of which the company sold around 70,000 units internationally.
- Ford is the other disappointing manufacturer, with the company completely disappearing off the list, even with two PHEV models and one BEV in its stable. The biggest reason for Ford’s disappointing performance is its lack of international sales outside of the USA and Canada.
- Renault also lost in the rankings despite having various models due to limited international sales.
- The Chinese dominance is evident from the number of Chinese-based auto manufacturers entering the list in 2016, with top performer BYD claiming the top spot in 2015 and 2016, taking the company to an overall third position. BYD’s success also proves Warren Buffets mastery, as the world’s second richest man invested in BYD back in 2008.
- Note – The 2017 data is skewed with underperforming Chinese sales in January due to the Chinese New Year and the Chinese government clamping down on subsidy fraud. The 2017 data is further skewed with the inclusion of USA, Swedish, Norwegian and Dutch sales for February and only some countries January data being available at the time of going to press.
Top 10 Battery Electric Vehicle Brands
Looking at the Top 10 Electric Vehicle Brands list when one only include Battery Electric Vehicles an entirely different picture emerges in many respects:
- Most of the traditional “Big Auto” brands are missing from the list.
- Chinese manufacturers, BYD, BAIC, Zotye, Chery, Kandi, JMC, and JAC, comprise six out of the Top 10 overall positions and seven of the Top 10 in 2016.
- The Top 3 BEV manufacturers in 2016 correspond to the Top 3 overall for all EV’s sold in the previous table, confirming the importance of focussing on BEV’s.
- VW has committed to a strategy shift towards electric vehicles, but it is evident judging from the 2016 data that the company needs to make hay not to fall short.
Electric Vehicles are entering the growth market phase in some countries
With EV sales rapidly climbing in 2016 and countries such as Norway now reaching EV sales of over 30% of new vehicles, owning an EV is not just an environmental requirement anymore drawing early adopters. Owning an EV’s has become cool and entering the growth phase in markets such as Norway and The Netherlands, where a couple of “Big Auto” manufacturers have opted to target the mainstream market through bringing Plug-In Hybrid versions of existing models. Many of the “Big Auto” brands are play stalling tactics by calling for the easing of emission standards or blocking Tesla’s direct sales model. Meanwhile, they are falling further and further behind in a market that is becoming ever more popular. Most of these manufacturers might be of the opinion to follow a wait and see approach, hoping that the first mover’s trips and falls due to the high risk and cost, with the intention to swoop in later with their big budgets to poach talent and ideas. We will analyze the tussle between Battery Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles in a follow-up post.
Picture Ellon Musk: The New Yorker
The disruption caused by the threat of electric vehicles is finally hitting home. In no other week has news related to the pushback by the proxies of the affected parties been so prominent than the past week, at a time when electric vehicle sales and forecasts are surprising the market on the upside. The frantic efforts of Big Auto and Big Oil to reverse progress is right out of a scene from Godfather 3, when Michael Corleone reflected “Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In.”
The efforts to block the march of electric vehicles has reached new heights as old foes Big Corn, and Big Oil agreed to work together in defending the transportation fuel sector. Reuters reports the Renewable Fuel Association (AFR) and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) will target electric vehicle incentives to “level” the playing fields. We hope the AFR and AFPM remember all the subsidies and support they received over the years to “level” the playing fields.
The Sierra Club, a respected environmental association, reported on the drive by various States to penalize electric vehicle owners. The report speculates that the efforts, already successful in ten States and considered in a further six, is backed by the Oil Industry. The Koch Brothers, Charles, and David, who’s combined wealth of $79Bln gained from oil, making them richer than the world’s richest person, Bill Gates, funded the creation of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2015. ALEC’s mission is to discourage States to support electric vehicles for carbon fuel based transport. Only four States, Texas, Oregon, Vermont, and Wisconsin have been successful in blocking the attack. Penalties take the form of annual fees varying between $50 and $300 per year. Georgia, which at some point had the 2nd highest EV sales in the USA as a result of a tax incentive of $5,000, replaced the subsidy with a $200 annual fee, resulting in an 80% drop in EV sales.
In a separate effort, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers asked President Trump’s newly appointed Environmental Protection Agency Tsar, Scott Pruitt, to withdraw the Obama era agreed on 54.5MPG emissions benchmark, required by 2025. The AAM’s reasoning is that achieving the standard is too costly and that the consumer demand is not there to support such a stringent rule. Really? The obvious question one should ask AAM is how they think the consumer could demand EV’s if the supply of combustion vehicles is stuffed down their throats? Looking at the list of auto manufacturers supporting this effort, it begs the question if brands such as GM only manufacture models such as the Bolt as a compliance vehicle, a viewpoint held by many in the electric vehicle fraternity. Developing EV’s only for compliance purposes limits consumer choice and the advancement of the technology. Already GM is slated for only launching the Bolt in States where there are emission standards. The reality is that these brands have been against the technology from the start and now find themselves threatened and at a disadvantage, having to resort to delaying tactics at the cost of the environment and consumer.
In Hong Kong, a mainstay market for Tesla, the Financial Secretary in his budget announced that the 20-year-old tax incentive for first-time EV registrations would be scrapped, and the tax discount on electric vehicles be capped at around $12,500. The result is that the cost of a Tesla Model S could nearly double in price. The move is in a bid to limit overall car ownership.
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The barriers to entry into auto manufacturing became ever higher over the last 100 years before the disruption caused by technological advances in electric vehicles and self-driving technology. Most of the auto brands that were around at the turn of the century have been around for 50 years or longer; the only newcomers was a spate of Chinese brands backed by the government. For an individual to reach the top 50 position on the Forbes list from vehicle manufacturing was only possible if your parents left you a trust fund with a bunch of 100-year-old stock in a big brand. In fact, the only Forbes Top 50 billionaire from the auto sector was the German’s, Herbert and Johanna Quandt who owned nearly 50% of BMW and Georg Schaeffler (Number 39 on Forbes 2016 list) who inherited the automotive parts company, Schaeffler Group. After their passing of Johanna Quandt, the children, Susanne Klatten (Number 38) and her brother Stefan Quandt (Number 48), became the beneficiaries. Mrs. Klatten invested her fortune in pharmaceuticals, helping her to gain over her brother.
Come to the turn of the century and along came Elon Musk, risking it all on a technology that has been shunned for 100 years by big auto. Being a start-up in a market controlled by a couple of dinosaurs was not easy at first, Mr. Musk had to back himself in the first couple of rounds of fundraising for the electric vehicle company, Tesla. The table below shows that Elon Musk pretty much up until late 2008 lead fundraising and loan rounds. The risk paid off as Elon Musk became by far the richest person in the US auto sector and at the time of going to press Elon Musk jumped to the 83rd position, up from 94 in the official 2016 Forbes list of the world’s richest people.
Other early billionaires in the technology include the savvy investor Warren Buffet and Vincent Bollore. Warren Buffet, the world’s 3rd richest individual through his Berkshire Hathaway, controlled company, Mid-American Energy Holdings in 2008 bought 10% in BYD, a Chinese battery company, now the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer. The Investment at the time was $230m. Berkshire Hathaway is also a significant minority shareholder in GM.
Vincent Bollore, France’s 10th-richest person with an estimated personal fortune of $6 billion dollars, started manufacturing batteries in his company Bollore Blue Solutions. The firm, situated in Brittany province, who’s batteries are cheaper than lithium-ion cells used in other electric cars, allows it to hold down the cost of his small vehicles.
Suddenly investing in electric vehicles became sexy. Chinese billionaires, mostly from the technology sector, were the first to climb into the auto sector, some more successful than others. The Chinese electric vehicle boom is fuelled by government incentives targeting that 8% of all new vehicles should be EV’s by 2018.
The tech billionaire and founder of BitAuto, an online vehicle sales platform, William Li started the Shanghai-based NextEV. The company raised $500M of an expected $1Bln already, sporting shareholders such as Tencent, who is also invested in Future Mobility, Hillhouse Capital, who also invested in UBER, Sequoia Capital and Joy Capital. The company invested C¥3Bln in Nanjing High-Performance Motor Plant to produce 280,000 electric vehicles per year. NextEv also signed a partnership with one of the largest Chinese auto companies, JAC Auto which will see them share technology, manufacturing, supply chain, marketing, and capital.
Tencent mentioned above is owned by the world’s 46th richest person, Ma Huateng of China, also know as Pony Ma. Tencent, which applications include the popular WeChat app, aims to leverage its tech experience in a world where connectivity and the Internet of Vehicles will drive the auto industry. The development of electric vehicle technology provides a perfect platform for tech and vehicles to meet. To this end, Tencent created a company Future Mobility and targeted an autonomous vehicle by 2020.
The Chinese billionaire, Jia Yueting, founder of LeEco which owns LeTV, the Netflix of China invested in two electric vehicle companies, LeEco, which developed the acclaimed LeSee concept vehicle and Faraday Future, developer of the disastrous FF91, unveiled at the 2017 CES. Both businesses are known for making bold statements and big ticket announcements just to be followed by press reports of cash flow and funding problems.
The Chinese internet giant, Alibaba, owned and founded by Jack Ma who is 33rd on the 2016 Forbes list, invested $160M in a fund where it partnered with SAIC, one of the largest Auto manufacturers in the China to develop internet connected cars. The first car to come from the partnership is the Roewe OS RX5, where OS stand for Operating System and using SAIC’s luxury brand Roewe as a platform. The software runs on Alibaba’s YunOS operating system. Jack Ma unveiled the car in July 2016. The Alibaba Connected Car will have its own Internet ID, not needing WiFi or GPS services, enabling it to connect and identify drivers through their smartphones and wearables. The RX5 has four cameras providing it 360° vision and is voice controlled. The vehicle’s starting price is around $15,000 or C¥100,000.
Alibaba beat other carmakers and tech companies to the finish line with the 2016 release of the RX5. In 2015 Toyota invested $1 billion in artificial intelligence research, while Apple invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing app, Didi Chixing. BMW went into partnership with technology firms Mobileye and Intel, providing the automaker with operating systems and driving assistance software while Kia and Google partnered around the search engine’s Android Auto operating system.
Robin Li, number 90 on Forbes List and owner of Chinese search engine Baidu, partnered with chipmaker Nvidia in September 2016 to develop a computing platform for self-driving cars. Baidu recently received approval from the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous vehicles, in Google‘s back yard. Baidu also partnered with BMW on creating an autonomous car.
Now that the floodgates are open, billionaires from around the world are looking to enter the electric vehicle and self-driving sectors. The world’s fourth richest man, Carlos Slim of Mexico, announced this early this year that he would back the development of a Mexican-produced electric vehicle through his company, Giant Motors in a joint venture with Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest bread maker. The strategy plays off in an environment where many US based automakers are contemplating bringing production back to the USA amidst President Trumps America First policy environment. Mr. Slim said the electric vehicle would be designed specifically for Mexican conditions.
Bloomberg reported that the JSW Group’s owner and Chairman and India’s 19th richest man, Sajjan Jindal, announced in Davos, Switzerland his intention to enter the Indian Electric Vehicle market by 2020. The metals tycoon expects the Indian government, like many other governments, will promote EVs once it’s more affordable.
It is clear that some of these businessmen are purely opportunistic, targeting to profit from regulation and subsidies for the promotion of electric vehicles.The majority, however, leverages their passions to bring better and more advanced options to the consumer at a much faster pace than what big auto ever moved in the last 50 years.
Although not mutually inclusive to electric vehicles, self-driving cars, deployable on combustion vehicles also, will drive the second phase of disruption in the auto sector over the next ten years. Self-driving car’s poster child is Google, owned by the 12th and 13th richest individuals in the world, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin. The company started testing it’s quirky autonomous vehicle as far back as 2009. Google recently spun the project into a standalone brand, named Waymo, meaning “a new way forward.” The company aims to partner with vehicle manufacturers instead of developing its own car. The first of such efforts was the conversion of 100 Chrysler Pacifica’s Plug-in Hybrid vehicles. Google, in many’s eyes, has lost the lead to Tesla, who’s progression was much faster and already has active Level 2 autonomy available in its production vehicles.
It will be interesting to compare the Forbes list of wealthy individuals ten years from now to one at the start of the century; we expect much more fresh faces who made their money from disrupting the auto sector. As a footnote, the lesson learned time and time again by dinosaurs in an industry are that they become too big, arrogant and slow, creating opportunities for new hungry entrants.
Picture: Source www.technewstoday.com
In a bid to fast-track its electric vehicle strategy in an effort to curb pollution, the Chinese Government has called for comments on a proposal to invite foreign automakers to manufacture in the country. Current laws are designed to protect local manufacturers by forcing foreign companies to partner with the local automakers. The Chinese Government now propose to relax these conditions for new energy vehicles, providing the likes of Tesla an opportunity to produce locally and protecting their technology by not having to share it with a local partner.
Pictured is the Zinoro 1 EV, an example of how foreign manufacturers had to operate till now in China. The BWM Brilliance Joint Venture created the Zinoro premier car brand in 2013 to deepen the localization of BMW. Zinoro assembles its vehicles at the BMW Brilliance plant in Tiexi, near Shenyang in Liaoning Province north-east China. Many other manufacturers flooded the Chinese market with old technology to protect their intellectual property, hurting the consumer in the process, in a bid to just tow line in terms of government regulation.
Tesla voted the consumers darling in the Consumer Reports Annual Owner Satisfaction Survey with 91% Tesla owners responded with a “Definitely yes” when asked if they will buy the brand again. Second with only 84% was Porsche. The bottom quartile included brands such as Jeep, Nissan, Fiat, and Volkswagen, which dropped eight places. The survey included over 300,000 vehicles. Can the States who is refusing Tesla’s direct selling model, naysayers, and auto dealers refusing to get behind electric vehicles please respond to this? For the complete list follow the link.
When you bear in mind that Chinese companies alone produced in excess of 112,000 electric buses in 2015, a year-on-year increase of 315%, this is a sector which is often overlooked. We have the UK authorities looking to increase the number of electric buses on the road, the Helsinki government announcing the introduction of self-driving electric buses and now the likes of Tesla moving into areas such as electric trucks and maybe even electric buses at some point?
High visibility helps the EV industry
Over the years one of the main problems for the electric car market has been reluctance amongst many motorists to try this new mode of transport. We have seen issues such as cost, journey capacity and a lack of electric car maintenance and repair services coming to the fore to place doubt in the mind of motorists. So, as the number of electric buses continues to rise around the world surely this additional visibility will make the general public more at ease with electric cars and hopefully increase sales? (more…)
In what is perhaps the worst kept secret in the electric car industry, Apple is looking to introduce its own electric car in the short to medium term. The company has dropped a number of subtle hints regarding its interest in electric vehicles but so far there has been no official recognition that the project even exists. Historically the company has played the public relations market to a tee but many now believe the company risks been ignored by the sector and EV enthusiasts unless it is a little more forthcoming with information.
Is Apple actually building an electric car?
Commonly known as “Project Titan” Apple will be making use of its infamous “i” trademark when it finally launches the iCar. There have been rumours and counter rumours, lies and mistruths and all because Apple is reluctant to let anybody into the secret which is widely known throughout the industry. Over the last few months there have been rumours of high-level management changes, a slippage in timescale for the project although again we have no official confirmation or denials. (more…)
The UK electric car market is showing good momentum with just under 20,000 new plug-in registrations in the first half of 2016. This is a 31.8% increase on the same period in 2015 and more interestingly there was a 38% like for like increase in the second quarter of 2016. There is no doubt that the UK electric car market is going from strength to strength, total registrations since 2011 are nearing 70,000, and the UK government is playing its role in this growth. So, what can we expect in the future and will the UK electric car market lead the European sector?
The two most popular vehicles in the first half of 2016 were the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Nissan Leaf both of which are recognised as leaders in their field. Perhaps one of the other interesting factors of late is the ever-increasing competition across the electric vehicle market which is giving consumers more choice. This increase in choice can only benefit the sector going forward and we are starting to see some of the biggest names in automobile manufacturing stepping up to the EV mark. (more…)
In a move which may surprise many people, the Chinese authorities are currently considering introducing a system similar to that in California which obliges car manufacturers to produce a set number of electric cars. This mandate will also allow those who are not able to produce electric cars in sufficient numbers to purchase “carbon credits” from their competitors. Whether manufacturing more electric cars or acquiring carbon credits this would have the same impact upon the industry going forward.
So, why is China considering this new mandate and would it be successful in the longer term?
Does the California system work?
California has been a leader in the eco-friendly transport sector for many years now having controversially introduced an array of mandates for automobile companies looking to sell in the state. In effect this was a move from state subsidised transport systems to a more businesslike approach which was described as “catalysing cleaner cars”. While the mandate certainly has its critics there is no doubt it has increased the focus on electric vehicles and eco-friendly systems to the benefit of all concerned. (more…)
If you look at the electric car market the most influential person at this moment in time has to be Elon Musk the entrepreneurial leader of Tesla Motors. This is a man who has quite literally put his own personal fortune on the line, pushed the boundaries and pushed the establishment to the point where he has made himself some significant enemies. There are obviously other leading lights in the world of electric cars but should these influential individuals grab the headlines or should the actual electric cars do more of the talking?
Electric car technology
The sad fact is that electric car technology in its most basic form has been around for well over a century. Yes, the idea of electric cars is not new, it has been tried time and time again but only recently has it moved within reaching distance of the mass market. So, despite the fact that the technology and the ideas have been around for many years perhaps this has not been enough? (more…)
It will come as no surprise to learn that the US electric vehicle market continues to grab the headlines and rightly so. The likes of Tesla have taken this market from near obscurity just a decade ago to within touching distance of the mass market. However, while all eyes are on the US electric vehicle market, is China really the market to watch?
Chinese investment in EVs
If you follow the financial press you will see billions upon billions of dollars invested by the US government directly and indirectly into the electric vehicle market. This tends to be by way of loans or tax breaks thereby allowing the government to take a step back leaving the “experts” to get on with the business of pushing the market. However, the business model adopted by the Chinese government is very different but could potentially see China overtake the US. (more…)
There is a growing movement in favour of banning all vehicles from city centres with the exception of those powered by electric. This is something which has been mentioned on numerous occasions by environmentally friendly groups as well as governments around the world. It is unlikely we will see any major shift in this strategy in the short term but the medium to long-term potential for adoption is high.
So, why should we even consider banning all but electric cars from city centres? What would the benefits be? (more…)
The electric car industry has perhaps had the most false dawns of any innovative industry in living memory. This is an industry which is well over 100 years old but it is only over the last few years that it has approached anywhere near the mass market. Critics will point towards the cost of producing batteries able to push range capacity well into the hundreds of miles as well as scepticism from some areas of the motoring public.
However, if you take a step back and look at the developments of late you will see an industry on the verge of the mass market, technological advances arriving much sooner than many had expected as well as enormous investment from governments around the world.
China and the US
Chinese and US investment in the electric car market has been enormous over the last few years with the US government recently announcing a multibillion dollar investment in electric car battery technology. While the US government has a strategy of investing in the industry indirectly via loans and tax breaks the Chinese authorities tend to be more direct in their funding of associated companies. This has created a very interesting situation for the electric vehicle sector because these two powerhouses are now vying for the number one position in the electric car market. (more…)
The US automobile industry has in many ways been a law unto itself for decades now although young EV upstart Tesla Motors is determined to take on the might of the archaic US dealership system. While the original idea of dealership only automobile sales across the US was well-balanced, protecting consumers and independent dealerships from the might of the automobile giants, the Internet has changed the playing field. Many have tried and failed to overturn this ancient system but the outcome of a forthcoming Supreme Court battle in Utah could have significant ramifications for the future.
US dealership sales
Dealership associations up and down the US dominate and effectively dictate the way in which automobiles are sold. Restrictive direct sales laws in states such as Texas, Connecticut, Michigan, Indiana, Utah and others have not help the development of the electric car industry. The idea behind this system was to offer consumers a local contact point for issues, enquiries, spare parts, etc and effectively outlaw long-distance selling. However, the online sales arena has had an impact upon nearly every area of business life although the automobile industry is the last one to hold out! (more…)