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Europe Outsells China on EVs

But the long-term winner is up for grabs
#europe #tech #Volkswagen

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China has been the world’s largest market for electric cars by a wide margin since 2015. Europe surpassed it this year.

China’s sales of pure electric cars through March totaled 77,300 units. Deliveries in Europe’s five largest car markets—France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K.—more than doubled to 79,300, according to a PricewaterhouseCooper analysis.

EV charging network is a key factor.

Okay, it wasn’t a fair fight.

China Backs Off…

China’s car market in general has been knocked back by global trade worries and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic. The resulting health crisis ripped up the country’s new-car market from the beginning of the year.

The collapse came as the central government was phasing out hefty EV sales incentives to producers worth as much as $9,300 (plus local contributes as great as $6,400). That multi-year program is what created China’s EV market and propelled it to global leadership.

Initially, China optimistically hoped to put 1 million pure EVs on the road by 2015 and 5 million by this year. Planners soon dialed back their timetable and broadened their drive for cleaner air by adding gasoline-electric hybrids to the program.

The country, after imposing sales quotas for “new energy” vehicles in 2017, currently is aiming for annual sales of 3 million “green” vehicles by 2025. But the coronavirus outbreak slashed sales of electrified vehicles by more than 50% this year.

…As Europe Goes Electric

Carmakers in Europe, meanwhile, quickly abandoned their skepticism about EVs after Volkswagen’s diesel scandal destroyed the market for diesels.

 Getty Images

Now manufacturers, led by VW, are pinning their hopes on electrification to meet Europe’s drastically lower carbon dioxide emission limits next year.

Today, 15% of cars sold in Europe are powered by a battery or hybrid powertrain, Felix Kuhnert, PwC’s global automotive leader, tells Bloomberg News. He predicts European Union countries will adopt a “cash-for-clunkers” program, skewed toward EVs, to revive their car markets.

Scrappage schemes pay consumers incentives to retire their older cars and replace them with new ones. Kuhnert says the plans being considered in Europe are likely to include an “ecological element” that favors EV purchases.

He anticipates that EV sales in Europe will surge this year, even as the region’s overall passenger vehicle market shrinks somewhere between 10% and 40%.

EV Wars

PwC notes that government planners in China are reversing their recent phasedown of EV sales incentives. The shift in policy, coupled with China’s existing capacity to build electrics, could have China’s EV market back on top by year-end.

But don’t count Europe out.

The region’s carmakers have been lobbying governments for stronger direct stimuli for EV sales. Which market will prevail? Kuhnert tells Bloomberg it will be a matter of “political will,” coupled with the better array of attractive EVs and the infrastructure to charge them.

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