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Electric Vehicles are Booming in 2021

June 25, 2021
After shaking off the negative impacts of early 2020, electric vehicle makers and their suppliers are having a banner year so far in 2021.

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The COVID-19 pandemic may have driven sluggish vehicle sales in early 2020, but electric vehicles (EVs) emerged as a bright spot during that period of uncertainty. This year, EVs continue to gain in popularity as more consumers gravitate toward them and more automakers innovate in this area.

According to Lux Research’s Automotive Battery Tracker report, combined battery electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) sales increased 37% in 2020 compared to 2019, led by 140% growth in Europe as the BEV market took off in several countries. Tesla remains the most popular BEV maker, Lux Research notes in a press release, “but its choice of cells from LG Energy Solution in China means Panasonic lost the market share crown it had held since 2013.”

Setting New Records

According to the research firm, Ni-based cathode chemistries, including NCA (23.9%) and NMC (73%), dominate the BEV market today, but future cell-to-pack designs and supply chain concerns will likely see LFP increase market share in the future.

“In our last battery tracker update, we noted that COVID-19 shouldn’t cause pessimism for the future outlook of electric vehicles, as automakers had already invested large sums in building BEV platforms, and governments were still pushing for decarbonization,” said Lux Research’s Christopher Robinson, in the release.

“The dramatic close to 2020 proved this point to be true, although admittedly, Lux missed the mark in timing, as the market came back much faster than expected,” Robinson continued, “and in the process set new quarterly sales and market share records.”

Tesla Leads the Pack

According to the research firm, Tesla continues to lead all other manufacturers in plug-in vehicle sales, growing its market share, as it captured 17% of the plug-in vehicles sold globally in 2020—a 2% increase from 2019. The automaker’s large average pack sizes and strong sales led to the company using 29.8% of all batteries used in 2020.

“This represents continued momentum in the market – Tesla alone used 34.5 GWh of batteries in 2020, just three years after all manufacturers combined used 29.7 GWh of batteries in 2017,” Lux Research reports. “Additionally, Tesla’s Model 3 continues to lead all others in sales volume, part of a notable trend: the prevailing success of former startups.” It adds that Tesla, NIO and BYD all have maintained strong sales despite large investments in electrification platforms from incumbent OEMs.

“We’ve reached a pivotal point in battery electric vehicles, as the ‘hockey stick’ demand inflection point looks to have occurred in 2020,” says Lux Research, which expects automakers to soon release new models built on dedicated platforms built from the ground up for electrification, including Hyundai’s E-GMP platform, GM’s BEV3 platform and VW’s MEB platform.

More to Come

In its report, Lux Research says that while the COVID-19 pandemic caused “significant disruptions” to the automotive industry, BEV powertrains continued to drive the vast majority of demand for advanced batteries, accounting for 103.9 GWh of 117.4 GWh used across all powertrains in 2020.  

Looking ahead, the research firm expects SUVs and trucks to increase market share as North American automakers plan electrified versions of the most popular vehicles like the Ford F-150 pickup truck. And, it says policymakers have extended support for EVs as part of post-COVID recovery measures.

“China’s two-year extension of subsidy payments will have the most impact on battery demand globally,” it adds. “Automakers pushing to meet the 95 g CO2 /km targets in Europe and a Biden administration that has publicly expressed support for electrification mean each area will see growth.”

About the Author

Bridget McCrea | Contributing Writer | Supply Chain Connect

Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who covers business and technology for various publications.

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