The transition from combustion engine cars to all-electric cars is a long story that began 15 years ago and is set to continue for at least another 15 years. It is not only a question of massive investments by manufacturers and governments around the world, but also of social and cultural challenges for drivers and users of mobility.
Despite the efforts and good progress made so far, reality shows the sector is still far from its complete electrification.
Race Against Time
The many announcements by car manufacturers about their goal to go "green" and to sell only zero-emission cars represent only one piece of the global conversion. They are in line with the ambitious plans of the governments of Europe, the United States, China, and many other countries to ban the sale of combustion engine cars in the coming years. All aim to reduce emissions.
However, today's reality is very different from those magical planes. According to official results from the world's leading automakers and my own research, all-electric vehicles will account for 8.8 percent of the 71.3 million units sold globally in 2022 (data excludes some manufacturers minors in Europe and China).
The market share is higher than that recorded a year earlier, but it is small compared to the next targets and shows a large gap between the automakers of China, Europe, the United States, Japan and Korea.
Leading Chinese Manufacturers
Unsurprisingly, Chinese automakers are ahead when it comes to electrifying their car sales. The ten manufacturers included in my analysis sold 2.83 million EVs in 2022, accounting for 23 percent of their global sales. In other words, 23 percent of Chinese manufacturers' vehicle sales are fully electric cars. This is an excellent result when you consider the time that car manufacturers have to stop selling petrol and diesel cars. With these results it is possible to achieve the objectives in 12 years.
Not so for the rest of the world. In the case of American automakers (Stellantis is included among European ones), EV sales accounted for 13.1 percent of these companies' total sales in 2022. The double-digit share is explained by the impact of Tesla, whose cars accounted for 87 percent of the total. Without Tesla, BEVs accounted for 1.9 percent of GM and Ford's global sales.
Europe is Far Away
The big five European manufacturers sold 20.8 million vehicles last year, but only 1.39 million units were all-electric. This equates to 6.7 percent of the total. Based on these results, reaching the 100 percent quota in 2035 appears difficult. However, European automakers are in a better position than their peers in Japan, Korea and India.
Japan Zero Point
The case of Japan is rather worrying. Data shows that the only four Japanese automakers to offer an all-electric vehicle in their 2022 lineups (Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Mazda), sold just 168,000 units, out of 18.9 million. EVs account for just 0.9 percent of Japanese automakers (the percentage would be much lower if Suzuki, Subaru and Mitsubishi were included).
The Next Challenges
If the Western auto industry is to reduce emissions in time, it will need more investment and government support. The question is whether these efforts will involve cutting jobs, closing factories and abandoning important automotive segments. Another chapter in the history of electrification is about to begin and it promises to be exciting.
The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is an Automotive Industry Specialist at JATO Dynamics.