The media assure us that there is an âEV raceâ going on, but the race to develop electric vehicles is much more complicated than a simple drag race (we know who will always win them). You could say that there are at least three races going on: automakers are competing against each other; Big Auto scrambles to defend its market against disjointed EV startups; and the world’s major auto-producing regions (North America, Europe, China, Japan and Korea) are competing to lead the transition and capture a share of the new jobs and economic gains at stake.
Above: Tesla Model X and BMW i8 charging (Source: EVgo)
In a new video from Financial Time, four reporters provide some insight into the current state of the electric vehicle industry, while exploring electric vehicle hot spots around the world in four representative vehicles.
Christian Shepherd crisscrosses the streets of Beijing driving an NIO ES6. âIn China, it’s all about electric vehicle startups,â he says. âFor decades, China wanted to have a globally recognized automobile brand. They were never really able to do it. This revolution in the automotive industry … is a perfect opportunity for them. The first wave of Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers included established companies such as BYD, which sold large numbers of taxis to governments. The second wave âreally tries to follow the Tesla model more. Now let’s talk about the Fab Four: NIO, Xpeng, WM and Li Auto.
Claire Bushey, who rides around Chicago in a Ford Mustang Mach-E, says, âElectric car racing in America is between Tesla and everyone. Yes Tesla has had some quality control issues, it’s almost like it’s a new car maker! She sees a reshuffle coming for the industry. âSuccessful businesses will be here for another generation. Those who don’t will be gone.
Peter Campbell slides through the beautiful English countryside in a Volkswagen ID.4 telling us, âTesla came in 2012 and brought out the Model S, which showed what an electric car can be. However, he’s skeptical of the oft-repeated trope that Tesla and other EV startups will drive legacy automakers into Kodak-style obscurity. âIt’s an industry that makes 19 million cars a year, and Tesla produced half a million of them last year. The idea that Volkswagen, GM or Toyota is going to go bankrupt in the next few years because of Tesla is just plain absurd … The benefits of being an established automaker are colossal.
Leo Lewis, touring Japan in a Nissan LEAF, also rejects the idea that Big Auto will follow Big Photo’s path. âA lot of these established players are going to be very serious competitors. I think they’re going to have a hell of a fight. He takes a contrarian point of view, speculating that Toyota or Mercedes could change course and become “the only one to beat.” (We would rather put our money on the Volkswagen Group or GM.)
Above: FT journalists examine how today’s automakers are trying to tackle Tesla in electric vehicles (YouTube: Financial Times)
All four reporters seem to agree that internal combustion vehicles are “an endangered breed”. The younger generation is turning to electric vehicles in Asian markets, and once automakers start offering more electric SUVs and pickup trucks, the dynamics are set to change in the United States as well.
If there is a race between the auto-producing nations, the open road country regularly lags behind. The European market is in many ways more conducive to electrification, with its high gas prices, a more progressive policy and generally shorter driving distances. âThe Americans think that 100 years is a long time, and the Europeans think that 100 miles is a long roadâ, quips Claire Bushey. “I don’t know who will win [the so-called EV race], but I don’t think it will be the United States.
The FT quartet stresses that government support has so far been one of the main drivers of the electric vehicle revolution. Shepherd tells us that the Chinese government had invested some $ 100 billion to promote electric vehicles, before 2019. This inevitably led to scams and scandals. However, âin the last two years everything has changed. Tesla arrived in China, set up its Gigafactory in Shanghai, and consumers really started to take an interest in electric cars.
In Japan, by contrast, support for electric mobility from the government and major automakers has been lacking. Part of the reason for the country’s electronic latecomer status is “the fault of Toyota and others,” says Lewis. Toyota and Honda have resisted the development of pure electric vehicles and invested in hydrogen. Lewis points out, as many others have done, that âproducing hydrogen in a form where you can put it in the back of a car is very expensive and uses a lot of carbon. In August, the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics were supposed to be a big global showcase for hydrogen technology. Instead, it turned into a fiasco.
Of course, while the vanity of an “EV race” is a fun way to highlight the differences between automakers and auto-producing regions, the real race is against air pollution and change. climate. Countries and their flagship companies can compete, but they must also cooperate against the common enemy, as evidenced by Tesla’s symbiotic relationship with China. As Mr. Campbell sums it up: âNo matter where you are in the world, it can be a little slower or a little faster, but we’re all going to get there in the end. “
Written by: Charles Morris; Source: The Financial Times