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 10 million cars per year on its own by 2023. 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 look at the electric vehicle plans of the world’s three largest automakers, and then automakers #4–7. Here’s one more piece in this series, a look at the electric vehicle plans of automakers #8–10 (based on 2017 sales).
8. Fiat Chrysler
(4.7 million sales)
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.
(3.4 million sales)
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?
10. Groupe PSA
(3.2 million sales)
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?
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