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Fuel Type: electric-vehicle-bev
Chinese car manufacturers are making their presence known in Europe, taking on their Western counterparts, writes Autovista24 journalist Rebeka Shaid.
Europe’s automotive industry is dominated by local players, with Volkswagen (VW) Group taking the top spot as the region’s largest carmaker. But that is not stopping new players from China entering the crowded European market, especially as electrification is in full swing. Competitive product portfolios, customer-centric sales models, and a will to succeed define the new players.
China and Europe are the two largest electric-vehicle (EV) markets in the world. While European carmakers have long exported cars to the Asian country, where they operate numerous production sites and joint ventures with local companies, now, the tide has turned.
Consulting firm Inovev noted that around 75,000 new cars from Chinese manufacturers were registered in Europe in the first half of 2022 and it is expecting 150,000 units for the rest of the year.
Electromobility is opening a window of opportunity for these Asian manufacturers, which are trying hard to build recognisable and reputable brands in the region. Nio, XPeng, BYD, Great Wall Motors (GWM), Hongqi, and BAIC are just a handful of carmakers working to take on established leaders across the continent.
Chinese carmakers are following clear ambitions: to increase their international competitive edge after years of mainly supplying cars to developing economies. Although many consumers in Europe are still unfamiliar with ‘made in China’ cars, that is starting to change.
‘To date, more than 10 Chinese car manufacturers have launched, or are about to launch, EVs in Europe. Two of them have achieved some initial success: Polestar and MG have made themselves among the top 20 best-selling EVs in Europe,’ Jan Yang, senior managing director at global consulting firm Simon-Kucher, told Autovista24. MG is owned by SAIC Motors and Polestar by Geely, both Chinese businesses.
‘In contrast, other Chinese automakers have barely made a mark in Europe. But this may change soon, as Nio and Co are making inroads into major European markets like Germany after testing the waters in Norway,’ Yang added.
Also hoping to gain a foothold in Europe is GWM. The Chinese company runs the premium SUV brand Wey and produces all-electric vehicles under the Ora brand name. Last month, the carmaker signed a partnership with Europe’s largest dealer group, Emil Frey, as it prepares to launch in Germany during the last quarter of the year.
As Europe’s biggest automotive industry, Germany is a strategic market for Chinese car brands, not least because the country is among the most EV-friendly territories in Europe. Data from the German Federal Office for Motor Traffic (KBA) shows that in the first seven months of 2022, around 7,000 news cars from Chinese manufacturers were registered.
Germany’s Association of International Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (VDIK) has seen membership increase as more Asian brands enter. ‘There have already been individual attempts by new manufacturers from Asia to enter the European market. But what we are experiencing now has other dimensions. These are very serious efforts to gain a foothold here,’ the VDIK told Autovista24.
The newcomers from Asia are eager to present high-tech quality cars to European customers, who are already spoilt for choice. GWM plans to roll out an all-electric model, known as the Funky Cat, which has been described as a competitor to Volkswagen’s ID.3. It will also launch a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), the Coffee 01, in the coming weeks.
Eye-catching names aside, the company said that the two models would set the course for their highly publicised market entry. The cooperation with Emil Frey is significant and a milestone for GWM although the details of the partnership are still under wraps.
‘We are currently working hard to set up structures and implement plans. We would like to inform our potential partners at dealer level first before we communicate further publicly,’ the Emil Frey Group told Autovista24.
The EV market in Europe is ready for disruption and Chinese brands are not only aiming to match their European counterparts, but also harbour ambitions to challenge them on range and price.
GWM’s battery-electric vehicle (BEV) is expected to have a range of up to 400km, with list prices likely to start from €30,000. Its PHEV model, Wey’s flagship car, will reportedly have a range of 150km, costing around €50,000. Both models achieved five-star Euro NCAP ratings this month, showing the company is up to the task. With Euro NCAP testing more Chinese cars than it has ever done this year, it said ‘Great Wall really sets the standard for others to follow.’
Tech, connectivity, and innovation
While safety and pricing strategy play a key role for Chinese brands entering Europe, innovation and technology is also opening doors for them. Asian carmakers are eager to offer the latest tech and connectivity services, increasingly finding ways to set themselves apart from their Western competitors.
‘While European OEMs may view electrification merely as a transformation of powertrain, Chinese EV upstarts have adopted a different product approach. The Chinese EVs are typically equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, more appealing to the younger generation,’ said Yang.
‘The Chinese take smartification to the next level in that the product is made extendable – consumers would be able to upgrade software as well as some of the hardware so that they do not only own the car but also grow with it. This kind of customer engagement was unseen in Europe,’ he added.
Luxury marque Hongqi, part of China’s FAW Group, is showing off vehicles that can park and charge autonomously, without the need for charging plugs – while here in Europe carmakers like Volvo are still trialling EV wireless charging systems. Earlier this year, Hongqi delivered the first batch of its E-HS9, an all-electric smart SUV, to customers in Norway. More recently, it struck a deal with a Dutch automotive retailer to distribute its vehicles in the country.
Meanwhile, Nio is on an expansion course in Europe, with one of their key services including battery swapping – another way to stand out from the crowd. This allows customers to lease the battery – the most expensive part of an EV – instead of buying it, which then knocks thousands of euros off the initial list price. At dedicated swapping stations, Nio drivers can change their depleted batteries for fully-charged ones, all in under five minutes, and the company is now planning to produce swap stations in Hungary.
Nio’s peers in Europe include startups such as XPeng and Aiways, the latter of which wants to offer ‘exciting’ and affordable cars. Aiways’ first model, an all-electric SUV – the U5 – made it onto the final list for the 2022 Car of the Year in Europe. Costing just under €40,000, the U5 comes with a 400km range and can charge from 30% to 80% in around 27 minutes. The manufacturer plans to roll out one new model each year, saying its vehicles are ‘reasonably priced.’
‘Traditional car manufacturers still have an advantage in absolute sales figures, but with increasing awareness, new models that are both price-competitive and attractive in terms of design, we are reckoning on good chances on the European market. We are in 15 European countries and already have products driving on the roads,’ Aiways told Autovista24.
Then there is Geely-owned Lynk & Co, which is eager to challenge automotive conventions with its subscription-based business model. Described as ‘Netflix for cars’, the company runs so-called ‘clubs’ across Europe. Its membership-based approach allows users to access a car on a month-to-month basis. Its PHEV is known as the 01 and in Germany alone, 2,000 Lynk & Co cars were newly registered in the first seven months of the year.
‘Our main difference is our business offer where our members can get a good car that they can keep forever or leave whenever,’ Lynk & Co told Autovista24. ‘Subscribe month-to-month for €550 or borrow a Lynk & Co 01 with insurance, maintenance, and more included. Or go all-in and buy your 01. Whatever works best for the member. Our Lynk & Co 01 offers up to 70km full-electric range so that our members can commute on electricity but go and explore with the combined powertrain.’
Chinese EV brands are increasingly grabbing headlines, with news outlets recently claiming that automotive giant BYD sold more electric cars than Tesla during the first half of the year. While BYD recorded around 640,000 EV sales from January to June – compared to Tesla’s 564,000 – this figure crucially included PHEVs.
Nonetheless, BYD’s figures are impressive as it sold nearly 330,000 BEVs during that time, up 240% from a year ago. It has become one of the largest EV makers in the world and is planning market expansion in Europe this autumn after launching in its pilot-market, Norway, about a year ago.
Like other Chinese brands, it is promising quick deliveries – a key selling point – and is initially targeting the Benelux and Nordic countries. The company has secured partnerships with select dealerships and is planning to introduce three BEV models in the region, including a ‘European-styled’ C-segment SUV.
BYD appears eager to emphasise this point, no doubt to appeal to European customers. The manufacturer works with more than 200 designers from countries such as Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany.
Modern smart cars made in China that look and match, if not surpass, what European drivers are used to – especially when it comes to the latest technology – are shaking up the market. Legacy automotive brands in Europe will be watching closely in the months and years to come.
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Mercedes-Benz has extended its line-up of EQ battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) with the EQE. Like the EQS, it features an aerodynamic and modest, but pleasing, ‘one-bow’ design. However, rear headroom is compromised by the sloping roofline and standard-fit panoramic roof. Similarly, the small side and rear windows, developed for aerodynamic and design purposes, reduce visibility, making the rear-view camera essential.
The chassis and suspension of the EQE are designed to be very comfortable, but also allow for more dynamic driving. The front bumper is not too low, making driving over speed bumps in urban areas easier. Additionally, the EQE’s ride height can be set and saved in the GPS to adjust every time the car takes a particular route.
The car has high perceived quality – the materials used for the dashboard, doors, and seats are first-class. The optional MBUX Hyperscreen, which extends across the entire width of the interior, is stunning, although it is only available in limited quantities because of the semiconductor shortage. The two standard displays, which resemble those in the S-Class, are also convincing and the advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), including an augmented-reality head up display, are all state of the art.
Electrifying the E-segment
The executive segment (E-segment) has been in decline in recent years as consumers increasingly favour SUVs. As a four-door saloon, the all-electric counterpart of the E-Class currently has no direct rivals in the segment. Estate and/or shooting brake versions of the EQE are lacking. These still account for more than 60% of the overall segment and 70% of its fleet registrations in Germany, for example. The forthcoming EQE SUV – essentially a BEV variant of the GLE – will help plug the gap, but comes with a risk of cannibalisation.
On the plus side, Mercedes-Benz is now offering a full range of powertrains in the segment as the E-Class is available with petrol and diesel engines, as well as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drivetrain. As the variety of electric models in the E-segment is still very limited, the EQE’s long range (up to 639km in the 350+ version with a 90.6kWh battery) will appeal to its target audience. This is one of the highest ranges in the segment, exceeding that of cars with similar pricing.
The 400V on-board network means a DC charging capacity of up to 170kW should be possible, resulting in the battery recharging from 10% to 80% in 32 minutes. This is slightly disadvantageous compared to the 800V technology of the Audi e-Tron GT, Porsche Taycan, and some other newcomers. A larger battery is not available for the EQE, as is the case with the EQS, due to the wheelbase being 9cm shorter.
Converting E-Class owners
The wheelbase of the Mercedes-Benz EQE is over 30cm longer than the E-Class, offering generous space in all seats, and the EQE350 has 245Nm more torque than the AMG E53 E-Class (765Nm vs 520Nm).
The towing capacity of the EQE is only 750kg, compared to a maximum of 2.1 tonnes for the E-Class. Similarly, the 430-litre boot is 110 litres smaller than in the E-Class, whereas the EQS is a hatchback with 70 litres more capacity than the S-Class. There is no additional storage space under the bonnet because of a high-efficiency particulate-absorbing (HEPA) filter, which ensures clean air in the interior. This means the charging cables are stored below the boot floor, which makes charging inconvenient when the car is loaded with luggage.
Overall, the EQE should help Mercedes to retain current E-Class owners that want to, or in fact need to, switch to a BEV. Nevertheless, aside from SUVs, the EQE will face strong competition from the Tesla Model S when versions below the Plaid become available again. The Tesla was the first BEV offered in the E-segment, comes with a strong brand image, and has been regularly updated with facelifts.
Furthermore, BMW will soon start deliveries of the i7, and the i5 has been announced for 2023. An Audi A6 e-Tron, with 800V architecture and a range of over 700km, will be launched in 2024 as both a saloon and an estate. Other premium competitors, such as Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover, are investing millions in electromobility, and Asian manufacturers, including Hyundai’s premium brand Genesis, are pushing into Europe too.
View the Autovista Group dashboard, which benchmarks the Mercedes-Benz EQE in Austria, France, Germany, and the UK for more details. The interactive launch report presents new prices, forecast residual values, and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis.
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Two automotive giants are pushing the ranges of their electric cars further than ever before. The ultra-efficient Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX concept car recently completed a 1,202km journey on a single charge, travelling from the German city of Stuttgart to the UK’s Silverstone racing circuit.
Meanwhile, BMW is aiming to increase the range of its electric SUV, the iX, up to 600 miles (965km). To achieve this, the company has signed an agreement with energy-storage company Our Next Energy (ONE). As well as extending the range of the iX, ONE’s Gemini dual-chemistry battery will help reduce dependence on nickel, cobalt, lithium, and graphite.
Over 1,000km in one charge
The Vision EQXX has managed to beat its own record run of 1,008km on one charge, set in April this year, driving while from Stuttgart to Cassis on the French Mediterranean coast. Raising the bar to 1,202km with its latest road trip, the research vehicle set out to prove the effectiveness of efficiency. The battery-electric vehicle (BEV) was able to achieve average consumption of 8.3kWh/100km, even when faced with heavy traffic and high temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius.
This was thanks in no small part to the thermal-management system, which is extremely small and lightweight, as the electric drive generates minimal waste heat. Aero shutters, coolant valves, and pumps ensured an efficient temperature balance at a minimum energy cost. The Vision EQXX uses a cooling plate in the floor as well as the airflow under the BEV to stay cool.
‘Yet again, the Vision EQXX has proven that it can easily cover more than 1,000 km on a single battery charge, this time faced with a whole different set of real-world conditions,’ said Markus Schäfer, member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group, chief technology officer responsible for development and procurement.
‘As Mercedes-Benz strives to go all-electric by 2030 – wherever market conditions allow – it is important to show to the world what can be achieved in real terms through a combination of cutting-edge technology, teamwork and determination,’ Schäfer added.
Past meets future
The electric car’s 1,202km journey was no mean feat. Travelling along Germany’s autobahn, across the French border near Strasbourg, down northern France to Calais, the Vision EQXX boarded the Eurotunnel. From there it journeyed around London, stopping off at the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix headquarters in Brackley. Waiting for it there were the Formula 1 and Formula E experts who helped develop its drivetrain.
Then it was on to Silverstone, to meet Mercedes Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries. He took the car for 11 laps of the circuit, using the last of the charge on the pit lane. The racer did not go easy on the research vehicle, taking it up to its maximum speed limit of 140kph.
‘The Vision EQXX was a true pleasure to drive. I know what this team is capable of, and it was a real honour to drive such an amazing car on such a historic track,’ said de Vries, adding: ‘And I can tell you that the interior is definitely a lot more luxurious than the cockpit of a Formula E car.’
While the journey is impressive, the efficiency of the Vision EQXX stands as a testament to what is possible with a BEV. Driving for 14 and a half hours over two days, achieving an average speed of 83kph, the design of the efficient electric car illustrates what might one day be possible for mass-production models.
Greater range and sustainability
When it comes to consumer-ready electric cars, BMW’s iX entered production in July last year at its Dingolfing plant. The official WLTP range of the standard xDrive 40 version is 425km. However, with the help of ONE, the carmaker hopes to boost the iX’s range up to 965km. With a prototype vehicle expected at the end of the year, there might not be long to wait.
‘We are confident that given economic viability, this can lead to commercial opportunities and strategies to integrate ONE’s battery technologies into models of our future BEV product line-up,’ said Jürgen Hildinger, BMW Group new technologies head of high voltage storage.
But it is not just the range where ONE’s battery looks to benefit the model. Given the importance of keeping BEVs sustainable, the Gemini dual-chemistry technology reduces lithium use by 20%, graphite use by 60%, as well as the need for nickel and cobalt.
‘As EV adoption grows, drivers are learning that real-world conditions can significantly reduce the performance of their batteries. Common situations like maintaining highway speeds, winter temperatures, climbing mountains, towing, or a combination of all four things present challenges to electric vehicles. We plan to pack twice as much energy into batteries, so EVs can easily handle long-distance driving in real-world conditions,’ commented Mujeeb Ijaz, founder and CEO of ONE.
Autovista24 principal analyst Sonja Nehls and market analyst Dennis Borscheid look back at the success of the Skoda Enyaq and give a remarketing outlook for the new Skoda Enyaq Coupé.
The Enyaq Coupé RS iV builds on the strengths of the Enyaq iV SUV. Despite the sportier silhouette, the Skoda-typical roominess is not noticeably compromised.
The steep entry price of the Coupé RS version is justified by the comprehensive standard equipment, it comes at a convincing cost-performance and is a great package overall.
Flaws in terms of top speed or DC-charging capacity did not keep the Skoda Enyaq SUV from becoming the best-selling electric C-SUV in Germany in 2021. They will also not pose a major threat to new-car sales of the Skoda Enyaq Coupé now and the remarketing outlook is promising.
Skoda Enyaq Coupé remarketing potential
|Remarketing upsides||Remarketing downsides|
|True to Skoda brand characteristics with lots of space and practical solutions||Long delivery times, leading to belated entry into UC market|
|Timeless design, unlikely to age quickly||Risk of cannibalisation with similarly positioned ID.5|
|Comprehensive standard equipment on the RS version||Comparably slow DC-charging capacity of only 135kW|
|Long range of 499km|
The Enyaq Coupé follows the Skoda Enyaq which was launched two years ago. As is the fashion, especially with battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), this derivative follow-up features a more dynamic design thanks to its strongly-sloping roofline.
The Enyaq already has an impressive track record, being the seventh best-selling BEV in Europe in 2021 and the third-best selling electric C-SUV. In Germany it even reached the number one spot among electric C-SUVs and overtook the Volkswagen ID.4 in its domestic market, an impressive achievement.
Our experts at EV-volumes.com expect the Enyaq and Enyaq Coupé to grow their joint annual sales volume in Europe to 95,000 units by 2026.
Delivery issues fuel competition
The compact- to medium-sized SUV segment has become the focal point of attention in the BEV market, with more and more models launched. The Enyaq Coupé therefore faces tough competition, especially from the likes of Volkswagen’s ID.5, the Tesla Model Y, the acclaimed Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the muscular Ford Mach-E.
New players are also entering the market, trying to claim a slice of the cake. These rivals, for example MG and its Marvel R, apparently can deliver their cars sooner than some of the established brands. Availability and attractive price points put brands like MG on the table with fleets and leasing companies, which currently struggle to secure enough cars from the European marques.
Furthermore, those leasing or subscribing to a car do not carry the remarketing risk, and are more willing to give new brands a try.
Delivery times will be a burden for the Enyaq Coupé as they already are for the Enyaq SUV. Customers seeking to buy an Enyaq must wait up to two years, and it is unlikely the Coupé version will have shorter delivery times.
At this point there is a lot of uncertainty around the level of BEV incentives likely to be available at the time of future registration, and whether the models ordered now and delivered much later will already feature upgraded specs.
True to family values
Simply clever. If Skoda had a family crest, it would sport this slogan, the very distillation of what makes Skoda models special across all segments, powertrains, or fuel types. And the Enyaq Coupé is no exception.
Following in the footsteps of the Enyaq SUV, it sports the same smart solutions, such as lots of storage spaces and the umbrella and ice-scraper holders.
Also, interior roominess and boot volume are excellent and exceed most rivals. For example, the boot volume is only 15 litres smaller than on the SUV, and although the sloping roofline takes away some of the headroom, it is still a comfortable place, even for taller people.
The smallest turning circle of compared models is another real asset, especially for inner-city driving. The towing capacity of 1,200kg stays below Hyundai’s and Tesla’s 1,600kg but is sufficient for most users, especially given that a premium model like the Mercedes-Benz EQB does not have any towing capacity.
Specifications and dimensions versus main rivals
The Enyaq Coupé adds a few interesting features to the mature and timeless design already established by the Enyaq SUV. The lateral view is different from that of the SUV version, thanks to the sloping roofline, which ends in a sharp drop at the rear. The large 20-inch wheels complete the sporty and dynamic look.
Also, the fully-functional air intakes help to lower the drag coefficient to 0.234 and therefore add a few extra kilometres of range. The ID.5, which is built on the same platform, has a cw-value of 0.26 which in the world of BEVs puts miles between the two.
Strong range, but slow charging
The Enyaq Coupé is currently only available as an RS variant, a guarantee for driving pleasure and sportiness. As with most rivals, except for Tesla, top speed is limited to around 180kmh and the 460Nm of torque fall a bit short compared to the 580Nm of the Mach-E, or the 605Nm the Ioniq 5.
But for BEVs, even for the sportier ones, acceleration and top speed are not everything.
Most customers will care more about how far they get on a single charge and how long it takes to get going again once the battery is depleted. The Enyaq Coupé’s 499km of range is only exceeded by the Tesla Model Y’s 533km, but the 135kW DC-charging capacity places it at the bottom of the league.
BEV specifications vs. main rivals
The comparably low DC-charging speed of 135kW can pose a minor risk for residual values as future used-car buyers will see it even less favourably in three years’ time due to advanced technology and higher market standards.
Almost fully equipped
Skoda has not held back on standard equipment on the Enyaq Coupé iV RS and even went above and beyond the offering of the SUV version’s highest trim (80x). This comprehensive equipment offer explains the steep starting price of the RS, €4,300 above the entry price of the ID.5 GTX in Germany, at €57,700.
It comes with a panoramic roof, advanced driver-assistance systems, matrix headlights and 20-inch wheels as standard. Once configured to a comparable equipment level, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y are 7-15% more expensive.
However, it may not go unmentioned that a like-for-like comparison is very challenging at the moment due to the implications of the semiconductor shortages and general supply issues. Available options on the car makers’ websites change almost on a daily basis.
By offering an attractively-priced and comprehensively-equipped model, Skoda avoids two pitfalls at the same time. First, there is no risk of ill-equipped Enyaq Coupé RS models coming to the market. Second, identification of future used RS trims will be easy and transparent. Unfortunately, it is likely that upcoming lower-powered versions will fall victim to these pitfalls, as they have for the Enyaq SUV.
A promising outlook
Residual values for the Enyaq Coupé are off to a strong start with especially high forecasts in the UK, coming in at 61% or £31,755 (€37,404) after three years and 60,000km. Despite a slightly lower forecast in Germany, the depreciation is equally low as in the UK due to a difference in list price of over €3,000.
Skoda Enyaq Coupé RS iV RV forecast, 36mth/60kkm, June 2022
While the RV forecast stays below the one for the Volkswagen ID.5 GTX in Austria, Switzerland and the UK, the Enyaq Coupé impressively exceeds its cousin by more than €2,500 in Germany.
The interactive dashboard gives a more detailed cross-country overview and benchmarks the Enyaq Coupé’s residual value and depreciation against comparable models in the markets.
The better Volkswagen?
When asking industry experts for their recommendations on which BEV to buy, the Skoda Enyaq comes up a lot. The Enyaq Coupé will complement it, for people who prefer the more dynamic look. It simply is a great package and long gone are the times when models of the brand were considered lower-quality budget versions of Volkswagen vehicles.
However, the Skoda Enyaq might well be the last to outperform its Volkswagen equivalents following plans made in 2019 to reposition the Skoda brand.
In October 2019 Herbert Diess, chairman of the board at Volkswagen Group, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that all parties suffer if three or four brands fight for the same target group with similar products. In the second half of 2022 Skoda will share more details on their new strategy, called Modern Solid.
Volkswagen (VW) has launched production of the ID. Buzz at its commercial-vehicle plant in Hannover, Germany. The site already manufacturers the commercial version of the battery-electric vehicle (BEV), known as the ID. Buzz Cargo.
Alongside the Golf and the Beetle, the Transporter, also known as the Bulli, is one of VW’s most renowned models. With the carmaker going electric, some of its most iconic models are charging back onto the road. Powered by the Modular Electric Platform (MEB), the Transporter will live on as the ID. Buzz, extending the model’s 60-year legacy.
The German carmaker has wasted no time finding both practical and marketing settings for the BEV. Operating within a ridesharing service on the Greek island of Astypalea, the ID. Buzz will demonstrate the capacity of larger all-electric vehicles as part of the ‘Smart and Sustainable Island’ project.
Elsewhere, in a galaxy far, far away, the BEV was showcased as part of this year’s Star Wars celebrations. Inspired by the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series, a unique pair of ID. Buzz models pledged their allegiances to the light, and dark side.
Alongside Zwickau and Emden, Hannover is VW’s third electric-vehicle site in Germany where members of the ID. family are now being made, namely the ID. Buzz. The site has undergone continual conversions for the new passenger version of the BEV. This includes a new body shop and sections for electric parts on the assembly line.
Josef Baumert, member of the VW Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) brand management board for production and logistics, outlined progress at the plant. At present the carmaker is constructing three Bulli production lines with a trio of different drive-system concepts. This means increased manufacturing complexity, which is why VW has trained some 4,000 employees on the new model and processes.
VWCV plans to build up to 15,000 ID. Buzz and ID. Buzz Cargo vehicles this year. Once production is up to full speed, as many as 130,000 units per year can be expected to roll out of Hannover. Additionally, both versions of the Bulli BEV support the carmakers’ sustainable sensibilities. Carbon emissions from their manufacturing and shipping are offset, with recycled synthetic materials employed inside.
‘The start of serial production of the all-electric ID. Buzz is an important milestone in the electrification of our fleet and for the manufacturing operation at the Hannover site,’ said Carsten Intra, chairman of the brand management board of VWCV. ‘The vehicle is a key pillar in the full utilisation of our factory and is thus safeguarding the future of the site.’
Supporting mobility services
As VW’s ‘Smart and Sustainable Island’, Astypalea is at the forefront of electromobility. The project looks at how entire mobility and energy systems can be transformed. Within five years, the island will host only electric vehicles, smart-mobility services and a green hybrid-energy system.
Astybus, a new ridesharing service will replace the limited traditional bus line, offering more connections across the island. Currently driven by the ID.4, the service will be powered by a fleet of five ID. Buzz models following the BEV’s launch later this year.
Elsewhere, the vehicle-sharing service astyGo will allow customers to rent electric vehicles from VW, as well as e-scooters from SEAT and e-bikes from Ducati. All of this can be done via smartphone and the astyMove app.
‘The discussion about the shift from fossil fuels to renewables has gained new momentum in Europe. Volkswagen is a driver of change, leading the transformation to e-mobility in Europe,’ said Herbert Diess, VW Group CEO. ‘Here on Astypalea, we are introducing new mobility services as the next step towards the future of transportation.’
A place among the stars
Some 11,000km away, two Obi-Wan Kenobi inspired ID. Buzz models were put on display in California as part of this year’s Star Wars celebrations. Adhesive films were used on both models, with the passenger version of the ID. Buzz supporting the light side and the ID. Buzz Cargo going over to the dark side.
The light side sported beige on the lower section, taking inspiration from the hue of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s tunic. The chrome on the upper section referenced droids and spaceships. Blue lights, lines and windows took the place of a lightsabre and Jedi logos could be found on the side windows and rims. Meanwhile, the commercial version of the ID. Buzz used red and black wrapping. Sidelines, headlights, light strips, and window surfaces came in a red hue, inspired by Darth Vader’s lightsabre.
‘The opportunity to explore how ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ and the Volkswagen brand could come together on a vehicle was pure fun. The themes of good and evil, light and dark are not necessarily concepts we apply to cars. The ID. Buzz collaboration offered a unique opportunity to have the cars become graphic reflections of two iconic characters,’ said Doug Chaing, Lucasfilm VP and executive creative director.
While literally wrapping these two models in film could simply be seen as an enjoyable reference to popular culture, it also points to a shrewd PR strategy. The new Obi-Wan Kenobi series continues to receive much fanfare, and the event will have been seen by a sizeable audience. With the help of brand ambassador and star of the show, Ewan McGregor, the ID. Buzz will have seen a successful launch.
Kia is positioning itself as a sustainable mobility-solutions provider and has recently launched its first ‘purpose-built vehicle’ (PBV), the Niro Plus. The electric vehicle (EV) will be used as a zero-emission taxi in South Korea, with the carmaker expecting the model to form an important part of future transportation.
The company wants to roll out a dedicated lineup of PBVs by 2025, aiming to become a market leader in this segment by the end of the decade. Until then, the manufacturer will modify existing models for specific purposes.
The Niro Plus has been specifically tailored to taxi and ride-hailing operators, but it can also be used as a regular model for private consumers for recreational purposes, including camping trips. Kia first revealed the all-new Niro at the 2021 Seoul Mobility Show in November 2021.
A non-taxi version of the Niro Plus will be available in select overseas markets in the second half of 2022. The car will be offered as a battery-electric vehicle (BEV), a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid (HEV).
To show Kia’s commitment to more environmentally-friendly car production, the electric vehicle uses sustainable materials developed from recycled wallpaper, eucalyptus leaves, and water-based paint. Kia intends to expand the range of eco-friendly materials, including plans to phase out animal leather in all vehicles.
New mobility products
‘Kia is transforming its business strategy to focus on popularising EVs and introducing new mobility products that are tailored to the needs of users in markets around the world,’ said Sangdae Kim, head of Kia eLCV business division. ‘The Niro Plus is our first step into the world of PBVs, a market that holds great potential for future development.’
The introduction of the Niro Plus follows the launch of the Ray Van in February, which has been described as South Korea’s first single-seater van designed to meet the growing demand for small-cargo delivery services.
Kia’s first dedicated purpose-built vehicle in 2025 will likely be a mid-sized vehicle, with the Niro Plus helping Kia transition to an eco-friendlier mobility provider. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for delivery and logistics services, with Kia aiming to grow its range from micro to large PBVs that can offer an alternative to public transportation. The carmaker even envisages its vehicles to serve as mobile offices.
Based on the first generation of the Niro crossover EV, the Niro Plus taxi model features additional enhancements. The length and height of the Niro Plus taxi model have increased by 10mm and 80mm respectively. The cabin space is larger, thanks to slimmed-down structures and thinner seats. The all-in-one display has also been improved, with Kia planning to offer over-the-air (OTA) updates and services.
As part of Kia’s aim to become a sustainable-mobility provider, the carmaker has also signed a seven-year partnership with green NGO The Ocean Cleanup, which is developing technologies to remove plastics from the world’s oceans.
The partnership is one of Kia’s corporate strategies to drive sustainability efforts, with the carmaker aiming to increase the percentage of recycled plastic to 20% by 2030. Kia will provide financial support to the NGO, backing ocean and river clean-up projects. Retrieved plastics will then find their way into Kia products.
‘Plastic is not inherently a bad material, but we must use it responsibly,’ said Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. ‘We provide proof that recycled plastic can be used sustainably.’
Kia’s parent company Hyundai is supporting similar causes. The carmaker has partnered with green organisation Healthy Seas to tackle marine pollution, planning to use the nylon found in recycled fishing nets to equip vehicles with more sustainable products.
Autovista24 principal analyst Sonja Nehls took the new Volvo C40 Recharge for a test drive and had a closer look at its remarketing potential.
Volvo introduced its first electric-only vehicle, the Volvo C40 Recharge, with a 231hp single-motor and a 408hp twin-motor all-wheel-drive variant. While the components are known from the XC40 Recharge and the Polestar 2, the C40 sports a different body style, with a sloping roofline and SUV characteristics lending a dynamic crossover look.
The Volvo C40 Recharge sports a steep list price, but with comprehensive standard equipment. It has high energy consumption but can compensate range issues with a sufficiently large battery and a 150kW DC charging capacity. It combines an emotional and sporty design with powerful motors, especially when considering the twin-motor variant. The lean interior and the comfortable ride work well in everyday driving and there is enough space for a small family.
Volvo C40 Recharge remarketing potential
|Remarketing upsides||Remarketing downsides|
|A simple line-up offering with comprehensively-equipped trim lines and limited options ensure transparency and well-equipped models for the used-car market.||The C40 Recharge comes at a high cost, about 7% above the Polestar 2 and only 5% below an equipment-adjusted Mercedes-Benz EQA.|
|The C40 recharge features good quality materials overall, as well as a decent fit and finish with small exceptions, e.g. use of hard plastics on the door panels.||High-energy consumption, almost 20% above the Mercedes-Benz EQA. Only one charging cable (Mode 2 or Mode 3) is standard in some markets, e.g. Germany.|
|The C40 combines the best of many worlds:|
* An emotional yet classic design
* Enough room for a small family
* A fun-to-drive and engaging BEV performance
* Thanks to its clean interior and its smoothly working infotainment and assistance systems, it also does well for everyday use or in urban environments.
The C40 is Volvo’s first electric-only model while its twin XC40 is also available as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or petrol version. Apart from the motor line-up, the roof is the main difference between the models, but it does make a huge difference. The coupe-like rear lends an emotional and sporty appeal. It matches nicely with the power of the 231hp single motor and the impressive 408hp and 660Nm torque of the all-wheel-drive twin-motor variant. When discussing which of the two body styles will be the more popular, Autovista colleagues from various countries agreed that the XC40’s SUV style wins the race due to its practicality advantage.
However, Johan Trus, Autovista Group’s chief editor in Sweden, added that ‘the coupe-like rear has become a common trait for many battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and customers associate it with a BEV’. The C40 might not be too far behind the XC40 when it comes to volumes. Ev-volumes.com forecasts 10,700 sold units in Europe in 2022, increasing to 17,900 in 2026. At an estimated fleet share of a least 50%, assuming an average list price of €57,000 and an average residual value (RV) of 55% this results in an annual European remarketing volume of €170-€270 million.
At 4.44m long, the C40 sits below other BEVs, such as the Tesla Model Y or Model 3, Volkswagen ID.5, Hyundai Ioniq5 or Kia EV6 and better compares to the Mercedes-Benz EQA, the upcoming Kia Niro or the Lexus UX e. The more sedan-like Polestar 2 shares technology with the C40, but is 17cm longer and 7cm lower.
Specifications and dimensions versus main rivals
The 67kWh battery on the single-motor C40 is among the larger ones, which partly compensates for the highest energy consumption value of 18kWh per 100km and contains a major impact on range. The C40 can also mitigate higher-energy consumption with its 150kW DC charging capacity, whereas Kia only offers 80kW and the Mercedes-Benz EQA can do 100kW. Tesla’s 250kW remains the benchmark.
BEV specifications versus main rivals
A comparison with the sibling models demonstrates the impact of body styles. The XC40 Recharge SUV consumes 19kWh per 100km and for the lower-built Polestar 2, 16.7kWh is sufficient.
Complete standard equipment comes at a price
The Polestar 2 comparison is also interesting from a list-price perspective. While Polestar started off as the premium brand, the XC40 and now the C40 come at a comparable or even higher list price. The Polestar 2 starts at €46,495 in Germany and the long-range dual-motor version starts at €50,970. The C40 list prices range between €48,850 and €61,880.
A part of this is offset when doing an equipment-adjusted price comparison, as the Volvo benefits from an almost complete standard equipment depending on the trim, while for the Polestar you can add another two packages at €7,000. Still, a top trim C40 is 7% more expensive than the Polestar 2, including the two additional packages.
To get a better overview of how expensive the Volvo C40 Recharge is in relation to its comprehensive standard equipment and compared to its rivals, it is necessary to configure the models like for like, as far as is possible. The below example shows the situation on the UK market.
Equipment-adjusted price comparison
For the sake of a reasonable comparison, the C40 was selected in Ultimate trim, which is the fully-equipped top version. The medium trim Plus does not include – or offer as an option – a rear parking camera or other crucial features from an RV-perspective and was therefore not eligible.
Comparable versions of the other models also feature comprehensive standard equipment, with the table above showing the main differences. The C40 began as the second-most expensive, 1% cheaper than the EQA and 1% more expensive than the considerably larger VW ID.5. After equipment adjustment, it improves its positioning to be 5% below the EQA and 3% below the ID.5. However, the Polestar 2 still finishes 4% cheaper than its sibling in this comparison of the single-motor versions.
Volvo’s premium ambitions are revealed in the pricing policy, which might pose an obstacle to customer acceptance and sales success. Also, from an RV-perspective, the high list prices negatively impact %RVs and lead to stronger depreciation.
The Swedish perspective
‘The situation for Volvo in Sweden is a bit different to the other European markets as the premium ambition has to align with maintaining a leading sales position in the domestic market,’ Johan Trus pointed out.
It is therefore even more surprising to see how expensive the Volvo C40 is in comparison to the Polestar. Johan regularly observes and compares leasing offers from independent providers and both, the C40 and XC40, are about 10% more expensive than the Polestar. With this price positioning, it will be interesting to see what sales volume the C40 will be able to claim in the Swedish market.
New-car registrations in Sweden, battery-electric vehicles, April 2021 to March 2022
Between April 2021 and March 2022, the XC40 Recharge stayed 36% behind the Polestar 2 and was the 11th best-selling BEV in Sweden. The main surprise as to registration volumes is the MG ZS EV in fifth place. With the growing share of private leasing and a strong dealership backing the brand, MG managed to achieve this major success and ‘people are willing to give new brands a try, in particular when they do not have to carry any risk’ said Trus.
RV forecast values for 36-month-old C40s are lowest in Germany (€22,400-€27,950) and reach values up to €38,110 (SEK 392,310) in Sweden. While the XC40 performs on a comparable level in almost all countries, it has a 10pp advantage in the UK. The Polestar 2 achieves stronger absolute as well as relative RVs in Germany, Sweden and the UK, one reason being the advantageous list-price positioning.
Volvo C40 Recharge RV forecast, 36mth/60kkm, March 2022
The Mercedes-Benz EQA can leverage its domestic-brand advantage in Germany, achieving the strongest absolute RVs. It also performs strongly in the Netherlands and the UK, while Volvo and Polestar dominate the basket in France and on the home turf in Sweden.
Volvo C40 Recharge RV forecast versus competitors, Sweden, 36mth/60kkm, April 2022
The interactive launch intelligence dashboard provides a cross-country overview of the RV ranges in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK. A basket comparison benchmarks the Volvo C40 Recharge against the XC40 Recharge, the Polestar 2, and the Mercedes-Benz EQA.
A beautiful beast
Travelling with an electric vehicle requires more planning and without a doubt you will constantly think about the state of charge, the available infrastructure and if the plug-in point will be able to communicate with one of the many apps on your phone and your car.
My experience during an extended test drive was that once I found a suitable fast-charger, the C40 can charge at up to 150kW and the process worked smoothly. The range prediction of the Google navigation system in the C40 was spot-on and concerns around range and charge points faded.
The Volvo C40 Recharge lets drivers enjoy the brutal acceleration and fun driving experience of a powerful electric vehicle, and is also a good partner for less energy-consuming everyday driving. It is a beauty to look at and a beast for those who want one, but it can easily be tamed.
Autovista24 principal analyst Sonja Nehls digs into the new Dacia Jogger and its remarketing potential.
The new Dacia Jogger might seem an unusual choice in a series focused on remarketing potential, residual values (RVs), and fleet relevance of new-car launches, but there are many good reasons for choosing it. Together with the Dacia Duster, the Jogger represents a new generation of Dacia models with improved quality and design. Just like its stablemates, it will enter automotive markets at benchmark new-car prices, maintain low depreciation throughout its lifecycle and will reach used-car markets with strong residual-value potential.
The low depreciation makes it a total cost of ownership (TCO) champion. Rising list prices and energy costs, as well as a shortage of used cars and soaring residual values, all add to a climate of economic uncertainty. Smaller businesses in particular need to look more closely at their costs and buying or leasing decisions. Backed by a convincing cost performance the Dacia Jogger has the potential to win over commercial customers, but the brand’s image and reputation will be its biggest obstacle.
Dacia Jogger remarketing potential
|Remarketing upsides||Remarketing downsides|
|Low list prices and strong residual values (RVs) result in benchmark depreciation and TCO||Brand perception and image|
|Improved quality and design||110hp petrol and 100hp LPG engines are slightly underpowered, especially with a fully-loaded car|
|Occupies a niche segment and combines characteristics of a van, estate and SUV||Unusual silhouette and roofline|
|Modularity and roominess, seven-seater option|
|Liquefied-petroleum gas (LPG) engine available as an alternative to diesel with additional cost-saving potential|
Three body styles in one model
The new Dacia Jogger replaces not just one but three previous Dacia models and combines characteristics of a van, an estate, and an SUV – all in one. Add to that the possibility of up to seven seats and this is a unique model. The Dacia Jogger has no truly comparable rivals.
As the focus for potential purchasers is getting plenty of car for their budget, other models in the relevant segment will be the likes of a Kangoo passenger van, a Fiat Tipo estate or a Skoda Scala. The typical seven-seater vans like a Grand Scenic or Volkswagen Touran or SUVs exist in a different league price-wise.
Specifications and dimensions versus main rivals
The new Dacia Jogger joins the Duster in demonstrating how far the Romanian car manufacturer has come, working hard on overcoming the reputation of being cheap and delivering poor quality.
Due to the unusual combination of several body shapes in one car, the Jogger looks a bit quirky, especially from the side and towards the rear. It is reminiscent of classic estates from the 1990s, but with a higher roofline. In any case, it is instantly clear that this car is all about space and versatility.
The interior greets drivers and passengers with a conventional style, including traditional control elements and instruments as well as an eight-inch touchscreen (not standard on the entry version). Material selection is aiming towards the simpler end of the spectrum, as you would expect, but the dashboard and door panels are cleverly styled and well executed. The third row seats adults comfortably enough and the two additional seats can be built in and out individually. With models of this size and price, the seven-seater option is a unique selling point (USP).
Initially, the Jogger is available with a 110hp petrol engine and a 100hp LPG engine. In some markets, such as Poland or Italy, LPG is very popular and in the light of soaring energy costs, the alternative fuel type offers additional saving potential. To put this into context, a spot-check calculation of fuel costs in Germany in March 2022 results in €11.50 per 100km for the petrol engine and €8.30 per 100km for the LPG engine (calculated with the WLTP consumption figures). A hybrid version will follow in 2023 and the smaller sibling Dacia Spring caters for battery-electric vehicle (BEV) demand.
Benchmark new-car price
Price is obviously the strongest selling point for the Dacia Jogger as you can buy a top version of it for under €20,000. Entry versions start at around €14,000. How convincing the price argument is becomes obvious when looking at the list-price development in the C-segment across Europe.
New-car price development (all fuel types, C-segment), unweighted, 2019-2021
Since 2019, list prices in the C-segment increased by 15-20% in most markets, with the exception of a more moderate 7% in France and a 26% surge in Hungary. France also saw a stronger increase of 16% for the cheaper 5% of models (the blue line) offered in the segment, but a less pronounced increase for the more expensive and better-equipped versions.
With list prices exceeding inflation levels, increased economic uncertainty and rising energy costs, private and commercial customers will look more closely into the affordability of their mobility needs and the TCO of new cars.
TCO driven by depreciation
The depreciation of a vehicle typically accounts for the largest share of its TCO. A lower depreciation, therefore, brings down TCO significantly, resulting in better leasing rates and lower monthly costs.
As a reference, the below example shows the TCO of the Dacia Lodgy TCe 100 seven-seater compared to three potential rivals on the French market. The overall TCO is the lowest, by a margin of almost €2,000 to the Skoda Scala 1.0 TSI. At €5,910 the depreciation only makes up 25% of the Lodgy’s TCO, 15 percentage points less than for the Skoda Scala (€10,160). The Dacia then loses some of its initial advantages due to fuel consumption and insurance costs. Keep an eye out for the TCO data of the Dacia Jogger included in Car Cost Expert upon its official arrival in the market.
TCO comparison Dacia Lodgy versus competitors, France, 36mth/60kkm, March 2022
Residual values are a major advantage
Dacia models repeatedly won the Schwacke and AutoBild Wertmeister Award in Germany thanks to their high relative RVs and subsequently low depreciation. The Dacia Jogger seems to be willing to follow their lead. Thanks to strong residual-value forecasts in combination with low list prices, the depreciation for the Dacia Jogger will be its major advantage across markets. In the countries shown in this interactive dashboard, depreciation will range between only €4,700 to €6,700 over two years and 60,000km in Germany and Hungary and go up to €7,500-10,000 in Italy.
Dacia Jogger forecasted depreciation, 36mth/60kkm, March 2022
While the situation in Italy looks less favourable in the cross-country overview, this is mainly rooted in general differences in RV levels between countries. When compared to rivals in Italy, the Dacia once again manifests its advantage in terms of an extraordinary RV strength and therefore low depreciation.
Dacia Jogger forecasted depreciation versus competitors, Italy, 36mth/60kkm, March 2022
Strong new-car registrations and RVs in Eastern Europe
In Romania, Dacia’s domestic market (not shown in the dashboard), the situation is even more beneficial than in Germany or Hungary, with residual values around 74% and a depreciation of below €5,000 on any model.
Ulmis Horchidan, Autovista Group’s chief editor in Romania, explains that Dacia ‘made a big step forward in terms of quality and design and carved out a new segment for the Jogger, which does not have any direct competitors. The Dacia Jogger has the potential for family and commercial use and, most importantly, it is a good match for the economic reality of people.’ He explains that due to continuously rising residual values, energy costs and new-car prices, many brands simply become too expensive – as new cars and on the used-car market – and the Dacia Jogger is a good option in this market environment.
‘The Dacia Jogger has the potential for family and commercial use and most importantly it is a good match for the economic reality of people.’Ulmis Horchidan, chief editor Romania, Autovista Group
Poland is the biggest Eastern European automotive market and with a 10% share, Dacia ranks third in private registrations, only exceeded by Toyota and Kia. However, when it comes to commercial registrations Dacia’s share drops to 3% and the Duster is the only Dacia model in the top 20.
Marcin Kardas, head of valuations and specification with Autovista Group in Poland, states that ‘the Dacia Jogger will not be a typical fleet car, but there still might be some potential due to current economic circumstances and increasing costs. The battery-electric vehicle Dacia Spring already sees rising commercial registrations, mainly with car rental companies.’
Jędrzej Ratajski, Autovista Group market analyst in Poland, adds that Polish customers see Dacia models as ‘cheap, practical and best value for money. The Jogger might change this point of view as it also looks nice and is well built. It can fill the gap that the phase-out of some vans leaves. For example, the passenger versions of Renault Kangoo and also Citroën Berlingo are at least temporarily not available.’
An option for car fleets
Does the improved quality, low depreciation and benchmark TCO make the Dacia Jogger a perfect model for car fleets?
So far, commercial registrations for Dacia vehicles remain the exception and the clear focus is on private customers. The Jogger will appeal especially to families in need of space and versatility at an affordable price. And this focus on private customers is one of the drivers of the strong RV performance.
However, Dacia has come a long way and there might be a small window of opportunity opening for a new target group of commercial buyers. Economic uncertainty, increasing costs and energy prices will make smaller businesses, in particular, look into their cost structures and seek improvements. The Dacia Jogger will certainly not be the car attracting user-chooser fleets, but for non-user chooser fleets or white fleets in need of cars as ‘workhorses’, as Ulmis Horchidan said, it could be a viable and rational option.
Not evoking desirability
The one thing that stands in the way of rising commercial registrations and fleet adoption is the brand Dacia itself. Being the rational choice and a sign of understatement does not leave much room for automotive emotions.
But in the end, every technician or craftswomen also takes pride in the quality and reputation of the tools they use, so maybe also the non-user-chooser fleet purchase decision is a more emotional one than you would initially think. The brand of tool or car an employer provides for working hours, but oftentimes also for personal use, helps with employee satisfaction and retention. While Dacia has improved significantly on so many levels, it remains a brand not evoking desirability.
Volkswagen (VW) is to implement a major connected-cars software update for its ID. electric-vehicle (EV) lineup, which includes greater charging capacity that can boost EV range. It also comes with the latest driver-assistance systems, improved voice-control performance, and a park-assist function that can memorise parking manoeuvres.
The 3.0 software connected vehicles update has been long awaited, offering some new as well as optional upgrades to functions such as automated driving, charging performance, and the augmented-reality (AR) head-up display. Regarding smart EV software, VW has lagged behind some of its main competitors, such as Tesla, but the new update is intended to close that gap.
‘The new ID. software 3.0 is an upgrade for our whole ID. family,’ said Thomas Ulbrich, VW brand board member, responsible for technical development. ‘We are taking our products to a new level of functionality because we are working faster, are more connected and are more customer-oriented.’
Smart EV software
The connected-cars software update promises a mix of benefits, with models that come with the 77kWh battery now able to charge at up to 135kW instead of 125kW. VW said that improvements to the battery’s thermal management makes driving more efficient and can bolster range. Consumers, eager to preserve the EV battery, can also activate a new ‘battery care mode’, which limits the state-of-charge (SoC) level to 80%.
New features centre on intelligent driver-assistance systems and include the optional ‘travel assist with swarm data’, which automatically keeps cars in the centre of the lane and adapts to driving style. This allows drivers to maintain a distance from vehicles in front, coming with predictive cruise control and turning assistance. Two radars at the rear and ultrasound keep an eye on traffic and can assist in changing lanes. Provided the sensors do not pick up any objects, the car then steer itself into the adjacent lane, allowing the driver to intervene at any time.
Other automated features include ‘Park Assist Plus,’ which sees the car search for a parking space and complete the manoeuvre with the help of sensors. It can also be used to slide out of parallel parking spaces. An additional memory function has the car pick up specific parking patterns, which it then repeats on its own.
VW is in the middle of accelerating its transformation into a software-driven mobility provider, with the latest update highlighting these efforts – the list of new features is long, not least when it comes to the AR display. The upgrade adds additional displays in the long-distance zone, as well as new symbols such as roundabouts and information on the distance to the destination. It also shows the charge level and the remaining distance to the destination.
The carmaker has optimised navigation and added a smart route planner, while drivers also receive local hazard warnings. Voice control has been improved to recognise commands faster, with the car turning into ‘an intelligent conversation partner,’ VW said. Voice control is available in all ID. models in Germany, with the system responding online from the cloud, and offline from information stored in the car. VW promises ‘high recognition rate and quality of results.’
Overall, the connected-cars software upgrade allows VW to create a new, digital customer experience with added functions offering more comfort to drivers. The electric lineup of ID. models continues to grow, making smart software a pivotal cornerstone for VW. About a year ago, the company first launched over-the-air updates, becoming the first high-volume vehicle manufacturer to regularly upgrade car software via mobile data transfer.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are developing at an incredible rate. Their efficiency and range keeps rocketing forward. But no matter their range, all EV batteries need to be recharged eventually. Unless of course, the spent power-storage unit could simply be exchanged for a full one? This is a concept gaining increasing traction in the world of mobility.
Bosch, Mitsubishi and Blue Park Smart Energy (BPSE) will collaborate on a new battery-as-a-service business model aimed at commercial fleets. It will utilise the German supplier’s battery-in-the-cloud technology, the Japanese carmaker’s service-commercialisation capabilities, and the Chinese company’s battery-swapping platform.
Elsewhere, Gogoro has unveiled what it called the ‘world’s first swappable solid-state battery prototype for EVs.’ Jointly developed with ProLogium Technology, the system is intended for two-wheeled vehicles and integrates with Gogoro’s existing swapping network.
Commercial-fleet battery swapping
Mitsubishi, Bosch and BPSE recognise the demand for electrification is growing with each passing day. But the upfront cost of deploying an EV fleet, charging downtime and battery uncertainties are some of the major factors holding back the electrification of commercial fleets. Swapping technology could be a potential solution, allowing operators to maximise the usage of their EVs.
So, under the trio’s collaboration, Bosch’s battery-in-the-cloud will continually monitor and analyse power-storage units using artificial intelligence (AI). This will provide control to the battery, meaning maximised life and performance while also optimising fleets’ total cost of ownership (TCO).
The trio is looking to develop and provide a service to detect and predict the health, capabilities, and optimal usage of batteries. All this insight can help reduce the major factors preventing EV adoption as well as the utilisation of batteries on the used market, resulting in reduced fleet TCO.
Swappable solid-state batteries
Solid-state batteries (SSB) are a long-awaited technology, holding the potential to reduce the size and weight of the power-storage unit, while also increasing its density. The expectation is that SSB lithium-ceramic batteries are the next evolutionary step on from lithium-ion chemistry. But the Taiwanese company did not stop there, it decided SSB should also be swappable.
‘Gogoro is unveiling the world’s first solid-state battery for two-wheel battery swapping because it is imperative we take advantage of the latest battery innovations to introduce a new era of electric transportation growth and adoption in our cities,’ said Horace Luke, founder, chairman, and CEO of Gogoro.
‘We partnered with ProLogium Technology, a global leader in solid-state battery innovation, to jointly develop this new battery that delivers higher energy density for better range, improved stability and safety, and is reverse compatible with all existing Gogoro-powered vehicles,’ he added.
The Gogoro Network is an open and interoperable battery-swapping platform for lightweight urban vehicles. It has been designed to be smart, scalable, and dynamic. It has more than 450,000 riders and over 10,000 battery swapping stations at over 2,300 locations. This allows it to host 340,000 daily swaps, powering 95% of electric two-wheeled vehicles in Taiwan. With such advanced technology available for two-wheelers, surely the same developments for larger vehicles cannot be far behind.
Australian lithium producer Core Lithium has signed a supply deal with Tesla. The Northern Territory-based company will provide 110,000 tonnes of lithium-concentrate to the US-based carmaker over a period of four years.
The binding term sheet will specifically see lithium spodumene concentrate from Core’s Finniss Lithium Project make its way to the battery-electric vehicle (BEV) manufacturer as a crucial component in the manufacturing of Tesla’s vehicle batteries.
Core Lithium’s supply to Tesla is scheduled to get underway in the second half of 2023, winding up four years later in 2027, or after the equivalent of up to 110,000 dry metric tonnes of lithium=concentrate has been delivered.
In addition to the supply deal, Tesla has confirmed that it will support further expansion of Core Lithium’s Finniss Project, located near Darwin, Australia. Core Lithium owns 100% of the project, which hosts JORC 2012 compliant mineral resources of 15 million tonnes (Mt) at 1.3% lithium oxide (Li20), and Tesla’s input into the project will focus on development of lithium chemical-processing capacity.
‘Core Lithium are thrilled to have reached this agreement with Tesla and look forward to further growing this relationship in the years to come,’ confirmed Core Lithium managing director Stephen Biggins. ‘Tesla is a world-leader in electric vehicles (EVs) and its investment in offtake and interest in our expansion plans for downstream processing are very encouraging.’
Another Australian-related lithium producer branches out
Last year, Core Lithium was awarded Major Project Status for the Finniss Project. The approved status equates to extra help from the Major Projects Facilitation Agency, including a single-entry point for Australian government approvals, project support and coordination with state and territory approvals.
Commenting on the approval of Major Project Status for the company, Federal minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt MP stated: ‘This project will be able to supply markets in Asia and Europe with critical minerals, and will have the potential to increase downstream processing, increasing supply chain diversification. This is exactly the type of project that our government wants to see, as we build on our resource-rich history for the decades ahead.’
In July 2021 Core Lithium strengthened its ties with European EV production by becoming a member of the European Battery Alliance, and they are not the only Australian-affiliated concern providing lithium resources for the boom in EV production across the globe.
German-Australian lithium developer Vulcan Energy Resources has signed multiple agreements with carmakers and automotive-related concerns over the last 12 months. Since late 2021, Vulcan has inked lithium supply deals with major carmakers such as Renault, Sellantis, and Volkswagen Group.
Earlier this year, Vulcan linked up with chemical producer Nobian, signing an agreement to assess the feasibility of producing lithium-hydroxide from lithium-chloride in Germany, as the European Union (EU) and governments across the world are looking to find ways to enhance and improve the lithium supply chain. This action is necessary, as the demand for EVs increases in many markets and therefore carmakers are reliant on sustainably-sourced minerals for battery production on a larger scale.
Autovista24 senior data journalist Neil King considers the outlook for the European new-car market and the pace of electrification.
New-car registrations in Europe – encompassing the EU, the UK, and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) markets of Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland – plunged by an unprecedented 24.3% year-on-year in 2020. As the industry contended with ongoing restrictions and semiconductor shortages in 2021, the market tumbled by a further 1.5%. This equates to a contraction of 25.5%, or more than four million cars, compared with 2019.
Autovista24 expects car component supply bottlenecks to ease throughout 2022, especially during the second half, although it will take time to filter through to registrations and clear the backlog. Predicated on this assumption, year-on-year growth of 7.6% is forecast for the European new-car market in 2022, followed by 9.4% in 2023.
The new-car sector is not expected to return to the pre-pandemic level of 2019 until 2031, with modest downturns incorporated into the forecasts for 2025, 2030, and 2035. Demand for new cars is expected to be pulled forward from these years as governments and manufacturers alike strive to meet a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions in 2025, and 55% by 2030, as per the European Commission’s ‘Fit for 55’ proposals. For 2035, the CO2 reduction target is set at 100%.
Although this presents a rather gloomy picture of slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and supply shortages, there is positivity as 2020 may also be remembered as the year that electromobility gained traction. The new-car market may not return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the decade but electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) are forecast to capture more of the market than internal-combustion engines (ICE) and hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) combined.
Downside risk from Ukraine
There is a new downside risk to this forecast, however, following the Russian launch of military action in Ukraine on 24 February. Fuel and gas prices are already reported to have risen sharply, which will add to the inflationary pressure on household budgets if they remain at high levels.
In one scenario, Russia will only occupy separatist regions and the conflict will not escalate further than this. Eastern European countries such as the Baltic states, Poland, and Romania, might be affected by the uncertainties around the Russian aggression, with a dent in economic growth. This would not have a lasting impact on new-car markets in Western Europe, however, given the ongoing supply shortages. Lower demand for cars in Russia and Eastern Europe could even relieve supply pressure elsewhere.
In a second scenario, Russia could seek to occupy all of Ukraine, which would entail greater sanctions than in the first scenario. Eastern European markets will be negatively affected as they are more dependent on economic relations with Russia. Very little impact is expected on new-car markets in Western Europe, and the EU could even lower its emissions targets or extend the timelines to achieve them.
2020 switch to electromobility
While the European automotive sector suffered a significant contraction in 2020, not all fuel types were affected equally. Although the year will be remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic, it may also go down in history as the year the industry turned towards electromobility.
Registrations of new petrol and diesel cars fell significantly in 2020, according to ACEA, the European carmakers’ association. However, the two fossil fuels still commanded a 74.1% market share, albeit down from 88.8% in 2019. Diesel declined by 35.3% year-on-year with its full-year market share dropping to 26.2%, from 30.4% in 2019. Meanwhile, demand for petrol vehicles fell by 37.5% to below 5.8 million units. This translated into a market share of 48.2%, down from 58.4% in 2019.
All types of electrified vehicles experienced higher sales in 2020, along with significant market-share growth. Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) made up 12.7% of the market, up from 6.1% in 2019. Following closely behind, EVs accounted for 11.4% of the new-car market, compared to just 3.5% in 2019. Registrations of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) more than doubled in 2020, while market share increased from 2.3% to 6.2%. Registrations of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) more than trebled, with their share of the market rising from only 1.3% in 2019 to 5.2% in 2020.
ACEA has pointed to government incentives as being largely responsible for the meteoric rise in BEV and PHEV sales in Europe during 2020, which increased by 107% and 211% year on year, respectively. Germany is a prime example of generous incentives equalling strong growth, with BEV and PHEV registrations surging by 206.8% and 342.1%.
Electrification drive in 2021
The demise of ICE cars and the transition to EVs continued in 2021, albeit with lower year-on-year growth rates. This is despite the comparative stability of the market after the unprecedented decline in 2020. Both drivers and carmakers benefitted from increased incentives as governments across the region looked for ways to meet strict emissions targets. Manufacturers have also sought to supply as many EVs as possible throughout the semiconductor crisis, which has had a dramatic impact on car production. This has been essential for them to meet their European emissions targets, especially as these targets now apply to every new car registered in 2021, as opposed to 95% in 2020.
BEV registrations increased by a further 63.4% last year, to exceed 1.2 million units, according to ACEA. PHEV registrations enjoyed slightly higher growth, climbing 68.5% to over one million units. HEVs performed almost as well, gaining 58.5%. These significant double-digit growth rates are in sharp contrast to the 17.4% and 33.1% respective declines in the volume of registrations of petrol and diesel cars.
BEVs and PHEVs accounted for 10.3% and 8.9%, respectively, of European new-car registrations in 2021. Accordingly, EVs gained a share of 19.2%, just below the 20.5% share achieved by HEVs, but ahead of the diesel share of 17.6%. Nevertheless, petrol remained the dominant fuel type in Europe last year, accounting for 40.4% of the market.
Note: BEV share includes hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV)
Looking to the future, the European Commission’s plans for an effective ban on the sale of new fossil-fuel vehicles (including HEVs and PHEVs) from 2035 means both OEMs and governments need to transition quickly to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), namely BEVs and FCEVs.
Carmakers across Europe have stepped up the pace in introducing more battery plants to meet the rising demand. Governments, on the other hand, will need to fund purchasing incentives and an expansion of the car-charging network, especially as many countries are considering whether to end ICE sales before 2035. The UK, for example, plans to end the sale of ICE cars in 2030.
Forecasting how much market share EVs will gain in Europe is marked by uncertainty due to issues, such as the need to introduce appropriate charging infrastructure and industrial policy, which includes government subsidies and CO2-emissions fines. Other challenges include a need for more technological innovation, rising fuel prices, and consumer acceptance.
Autovista24 predicts that the EV share of the European market will rise to 23% in 2022, before jumping to 34.5% in 2025 and 57% in 2030. In line with the anticipated market corrections in 2025 and 2030, spikes are assumed in the EV share. By 2035, the expectation is that all European countries will have ended ICE passenger-car sales and the market will essentially be a two-fuel race between BEVs and FCEVs.
Note: BEV share includes hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV)
Forecasts have been constantly revised upwards in recent years because of new developments, such as the 2021 Paris Climate Agreement, stricter emissions targets, COVID-19, and rising fuel prices. They have led - and will continue to lead - to a quickening of EV adoption.
But most countries still have a long way to go. Of the 30 European countries tracked by ACEA, only Norway has excelled with EVs accounting for 86.2% of the market in of 2021. Iceland came in second at 54.7%, but the big five markets are lagging far behind (France 18.3%, Germany 26%, Italy 9.4%, Spain 7.8%, and UK 18.5%).
The automotive industry is undergoing a period of rapid transformation. Connectivity, digitisation, and electrification are opening doors to tech giants and other non-automotive players, seeking to revolutionise the industry. Autovista24 journalist Rebeka Shaid considers some of the companies competing for entry.
When Asian smartphone-maker Xiaomi announced it would set up a wholly-owned subsidiary to wade into the booming electrically-chargeable vehicle (EV) market, the news did not really come as a surprise. As China’s version of Apple – which is also rumoured to be working on bringing its own car to the market – Xiaomi joins a wide variety of non-automotive companies tapping into the car industry.
From tech giants and oil majors to energy and payment providers – an eclectic mix of businesses are showing increasing interest in the automotive sector. Sony Group just announced plans to launch a company this spring to explore the commercial roll-out of EVs. Meanwhile, BP is betting on infrastructure, eager to become a leading charging-service provider. And Rival Shell recently struck up a partnership with Chinese car brand Nio to operate battery-charging and swapping facilities in Asia and Europe.
Tech giants drive connectivity
There is a long list of non-automotive companies revolutionising the car industry, especially in the name of connectivity. Since many carmakers have struggled to produce their own connected products, big tech companies have had an easy time taking the helm when it comes to steering the digital future of the market.
This is particularly true for smart technology provided by the likes of Apple and Google that major carmakers have integrated into their vehicles. A fear of missing out might have led Amazon to also push into this lucrative market, with the company making its Alexa Custom Assistant available to manufacturers last year. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now part of Stellantis, was the first carmaker to implement this service into its vehicles. Tesla rival Lucid soon followed suit, making Alexa its primary voice assistant.
These types of partnerships are shaping the automotive industry, which is faced with a complex environment dictated by digitisation, electrification, connectivity, autonomous driving, new entrants, and a plethora of novel products and services. It is no wonder then that OEMs are driving collaborative efforts to exploit innovative opportunities for growth and transformation, especially when it comes to connected cars – not least in the field of in-car payments.
The car as a payment device?
To increase connectivity, financial-services provider Visa struck up a partnership with Daimler Mobility, which plans to offer in-car payments from spring 2022 in a unique pilot project. By integrating Visa’s delegated authentication technology, customers will no longer have to enter passwords or rely on their mobile phones for payment authentication. The collaboration allows Mercedes-Benz customers in the UK and Germany to make payments using a fingerprint sensor in the car. Purchases can then be made directly through the vehicle’s infotainment system.
Jürgen Schübel, Visa’s head of merchant solutions and acceptance, central Europe, told Autovista24 that both the automotive sector and payment transactions are becoming more digital, with the partnership allowing Daimler Mobility and Visa to offer the next generation of networked trade in the car. This not only brings more comfort to drivers and passengers but serves as a strong example of how a leading provider of digital payments and an iconic car brand can combine their technologies into intelligent solutions for the mobility sector. The partnership is the first of its kind and creates ample opportunities for in-vehicle e-commerce.
‘We envision a future where consumers can buy all auto-related goods and services through their vehicle. People expect more convenient and seamless payment experiences – not just from their cards and mobile devices, but also through other channels such as their vehicles. Today, when purchasing car services, motorists must register on a website or physically go to a store,’ said Schübel.
‘The goal of Daimler Mobility and Visa is to enable drivers to purchase exactly the same goods and services through their cars, while at the same time expanding their choice and improving the user experience. The solution will initially be introduced for parking and refueling as well as for paying for the goods and services available in the Mercedes Me Store that can be purchased via the vehicle’s head unit,’ he added.
Schübel pointed out that the partnership could set a benchmark, with more carmakers adopting this business model in the future. The novel service will be rolled out in 19 other European countries, including Italy, France, and Portugal. Visa also confirmed plans to Autovista24 to launch it in markets outside Europe, though no time frame has been set for this yet.
The partnership is beneficial for both companies. Mercedes-Benz emphasised to Autovista24 that its Mercedes Pay service is an essential part of Daimler’s mobility and digitisation strategy. ‘Global mobility trends for electric vehicles, car-sharing, autonomous driving and connected cars are increasing the demand for innovative ways of paying for goods and services in the vehicle itself,’ the German carmaker said.
COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of digital transformation, not least in the payments and automotive sectors. Research by Capgemini Invent found that the number of connected cars on the road is set to rise to 352 million by 2023, compared with 119.4 million in 2018. This also means in-car payments are going to take a more central role, with Juniper Research expecting this service to reach a value of around $86 billion (€76 billion) by 2025. Including these types of applications from third-party providers allows manufacturers to position themselves against their tech and digital counterparts, also giving them a certain level of control.
Connecting cars and homes
However, non-automotive companies are not only striving to connect cars but also homes. Power infrastructure has become a key battleground in the era of electrification. Last year, Volkswagen (VW) Group teamed up with ev.energy to launch its first intelligent household-electricity tariff in Germany, Europe’s largest energy market. Meanwhile, Hyundai announced an ‘integrated clean-energy ecosystem’ called Hyundai Home that offers customers access to solar energy and EV charging from their own homes.
Then there is Tesla. Eager to stir up the energy market, the carmaker partnered with the German unit of British retail electricity startup Octopus Energy to launch an electricity tariff in the country. Both companies have experienced rapid growth, with Octopus Energy achieving a double ‘unicorn status’ as the startup was valued at more than $2 billion a little over a year ago.
The energy crunch in Europe has led to power prices hitting records in recent months. In Germany, electricity prices are ranked among the highest globally. As a fast-growing energy supplier, Octopus Energy is eager to provide affordable energy tariffs, promising flexibility and a two-year price guarantee. Typical customers will only pay direct energy and network costs on top of a monthly €3 fee. The partnership with Tesla allows Octopus to supply sustainable power to households with rooftop solar panels and a Tesla-branded Powerwall storage battery.
‘Tesla is considered a pioneer when it comes to future-proof innovations,’ Andrew Mack, CEO of Octopus Energy Germany, told Autovista24. ‘We are firmly convinced that the pairing of our expertise will help stir up the energy market. We believe that there are many opportunities for energy providers to advance innovative approaches in the future. Thanks to electromobility, cooperation with car manufacturers is the most obvious, and there are sure to be more exciting developments in the market.’
Mack added that the overriding goal is to work with Tesla to offer a tariff that is affordable and ‘good for the environment’ in the long term. He also said the company is working on further possibilities to create more value for customers with their Powerwall and solar systems. The rise of electromobility has helped energy companies forge partnerships with both traditional manufacturers and newer entrants like Tesla. After all, it is not only carmakers that are adapting to the transformation brought on by electrification, but also energy suppliers. Could partnerships between OEMs and utilities soon become the norm?
‘We believe that there are many opportunities for energy providers in the future to advance innovative approaches. Due to electromobility, the cooperation with car manufacturers is the most obvious and there will certainly be more exciting developments in the market,’ said Mack. ‘However, we see a high potential for innovation not only in cooperation with car manufacturers, but also with other companies and industrial sectors. With all these opportunities, one challenge is the complexity of the German electricity market and the strict regulations. Unfortunately, some companies, including established giants, still shy away from that.’
Octopus Energy’s collaboration exemplifies an attitude to take on these kinds of challenges, and having a powerful partner like Tesla on board will help the company forge ahead with its goals. It is this type of approach that many non-automotive companies are applying to shake up the car industry, taking advantage of trends in the realm of electromobility and connectivity. Undoubtedly, we will see more collaborations in this field and announcements by non-automotive businesses eager to revamp the automotive sector.
Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL), one of China’s fastest-growing companies, has rolled out a battery-swap service in its home market, allowing consumers to change batteries of electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) in one minute.
The company announced the news at a launch event, where it presented the new service under the name EVOGO. The modular battery-swap solution is made up of battery blocks, fast battery-swap stations, and an app. It will initially be rolled out in 10 cities across China, which keeps promoting infrastructure-related facilities such as charging and battery-swapping stations.
Battery-swapping is more prevalent in China than elsewhere in the world, with carmaker Nio planning to add an additional 100 battery-swapping stations to its network of 700 in the country by 2025. But the service is gaining traction elsewhere, with the manufacturer recently partnering with Shell to introduce battery-swapping stations in Europe in a pilot project from 2022.
Battery as a shared product
‘We consider the battery as a shared product, instead of a consumer product for personal use,’ said Chen Weifeng, general manager of CATL’s subsidiary Contemporary Amperex Energy Service Technology Ltd. He added that the new product would help EV drivers beat range anxiety while also getting rid of the ‘inconvenience’ to recharge batteries, as well as high purchasing and driving costs.
Its mass-produced battery, designed to look like a bar of chocolate, has especially been developed for EV battery-sharing. It can achieve a weight-energy density of over 160 Wh/kg and a volume energy density of 325 Wh/L, enabling a single block to provide a driving range of 200km.
CATL gives customers the opportunity to rent one to three blocks to meet different range requirements at swap stations. One block is typically sufficient for inner-city commuting, while the battery maker recommends two to three blocks for longer journeys.
The batteries are compatible with many battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) from different OEMs, suiting a range of vehicles, from Class-A00, Class-B, and Class-C passenger cars to logistics vehicles.
Compatibility and competition
‘The battery-swap station highlights high compatibility, need-based battery rental, and complementarity with charging services. With a footprint equivalent to three parking spaces, a standard EVOGO battery-swap station can house up to 48 Choco-SEBs and allows one-minute swapping for a single battery block, ensuring fully-charged batteries for customers at any time without a long wait. Moreover, EVOGO offers a variety of swap stations to suit the climates of different regions,’ CATL said.
The company launched 10 years ago and has quickly become a darling of investors, helping to give China a lead in EV batteries. It supplies batteries to most of the world’s carmakers, including Volkswagen, BMW, and Tesla. The New York Times found it holds one third of the global EV-battery market, with its biggest competitor being LG. Elsewhere, competition is heating up as carmakers keep pushing into the battery business by building their own batteries or investing in a range of companies to diversify the supply chain.
Last year, Geely, the parent company of Volvo Cars, announced plans to set up 5,000 battery-swapping stations globally by 2025. The company showcased the technology behind this service at the 2021 Wuzhen Internet Conference, with the process taking less than a minute. Tesla at one point explored battery swapping, but withdrew its plan to focus on its network of fast chargers instead.
As the automotive industry strives to go green, electromobility has become synonymous with sustainability. The aim is for environmentally-friendly factories to build electrified models that will eventually run on renewable energy. But what happens when an electrically-chargeable vehicle (EV) comes to the end of its lifecycle? Companies are considering how an EV’s battery can be re-used, recycled and repurposed.
In Germany, RWE brought a new energy-storage facility online which uses lithium-ion batteries from electric Audi models. The pumped-storage power plant on Lake Hengstey in Herdecke employs 60 battery systems and will be able to temporarily store roughly 4.5MWh of electricity. Meanwhile, in the UK, Veolia announced its first battery-recycling facility. The resource-management company predicts it will have the capacity to process 20% of the country’s end-of-life EV batteries by 2024.
Decommissioned batteries from Audi’s e-tron development cars are the focus of RWE’s project. After primary use, the battery-electric vehicles’ (BEVs) power-storage components maintained a residual capacity of more than 80%. Depending on specific applications, these units can go on to have 10 years of service life. All this for a significantly cheaper amount than new cells.
Oliver Hoffmann, member of the board for technical development, explained that while Audi plans to launch more than 20 BEVs by 2025, its carbon-neutral goals stretch beyond the vehicle. This creates a potential for collaboration with companies from the energy industry.
‘This partnership with RWE is intended to demonstrate the possibilities that exist for the resource-friendly use of second-life high-voltage batteries and their intelligent integration into the power grid of the future,’ said Hoffmann. ‘In addition, we are already thinking about the time after this utilisation phase and are stepping up our efforts to ensure that batteries are recycled effectively.’
RWE expects to start marketing the capacity of the storage system early this year. Initially, it will look towards supporting the grid as part of frequency maintenance. Long-term, findings from the project will help the company build and operate larger facilities in the future.
‘Powerful battery storage plays an essential role in the energy revolution. Flexible storage technologies are needed to compensate for short-term fluctuations in renewable energy and to stabilise the grid. Battery-storage systems are ideally suited for this purpose,’ Roger Miesen, CEO of RWE Generation commented.
‘Together with Audi, in Herdecke we are testing how end-of-life high-voltage batteries from electric cars behave as stationary energy-storage devices when connected together. The continued use of such ‘second-life’ storage is a sustainable alternative to brand-new batteries. The experience gained from this project will help us identify the applications in which we can most cost-effectively operate such battery systems.’
Veolia’s new Minworth facility is the company’s first step towards developing its recycling technology and treatment capacity in the UK. Given that the country is estimated to have 350,000 tonnes of end-of-life EV batteries by 2040, this approach could turn potential waste into a valuable resource.
Initially, the site will discharge and dismantle batteries before the completion of mechanical and chemical separation stages. Veolia also plans to establish a circular economy in the next five years to produce battery precursors in Europe.
‘We will not reach carbon neutrality without increasing our investment and development of new technologies and recycling opportunities,’ said Gavin Graveson, Veolia senior executive vice-president for the northern Europe zone. ‘As the demand for electric vehicles increases, we will need this facility – and more like it in the UK – to ensure we don’t hit a resource crisis in the next decade.’
‘Alongside other projects across the globe, bringing Veolia’s expertise to the UK recognises the size of the national market and appetite to recycle locally and responsibly. Urban mining is essential if we are to protect raw materials and will, in turn, create a new, high-skilled industry,’ he concluded.
Taking to the stage at CES 2022, Stellantis showcased its predictions for the future of transportation. Members of its 14-brand family demonstrated their commitment to electrification, autonomy, and shared mobility. Some concepts are likely to only ever see the light of day during motor shows, but other announcements held more tangible promise, with delivery deadlines set for 2025.
Stellantis has also established a set of fresh collaborations with Amazon. Thanks to a string of multi-year agreements with the online giant, the OEM will be able to deliver more software-defined vehicles. Correspondingly, Amazon will be the first commercial customer of the new Ram battery-electric vehicle (BEV), set for launch in 2023.
Chrysler leads the charge
Probably the biggest vehicle reveal for Stellantis at this year’s CES was the Chrysler Airflow Concept. The new car is not simply a demonstration of new powertrain technology, but a commitment from the brand to launch its first BEV by 2025, with plans to go all-electric by 2028.
The Airflow concept is powered by two 150kW motors located in the front and rear. It was designed to allow larger motor units, opening up the potential for high-performance applications in the future. The battery is reportedly capable of up to nearly 650km in range on a single charge, as well as fast-charging functionality.
Connectivity is a major building block for the vehicle. Its STLA Brain platform and SmartCockpit create a customised hub for the passenger, which is connected to their digital lives. Screens throughout the car can be personalised, grouped, and shared based on individual interests. Seats are even equipped with a built-in camera so occupants can participate in group video calls.
Over-the-air (OTA) updates will enable the Airflow passengers to add new features and keep it up to date. Software developers will be able to create and update features and services quickly, using inbuilt capabilities without needing to wait for new hardware.
‘The Chrysler Airflow Concept represents the future direction of the Chrysler brand, providing a peek at the dynamic design, advanced technologies and seamless connectivity that will characterise the full-electric portfolio we plan to reach by 2028,’ said Chris Feuell, Chrysler brand CEO.
Citroen’s creative concept
Citroen showed off its mobility solutions for both the present and the future. The My Ami Pop represented the brand’s current offering within the micro-mobility market. As a two-seater electric quadricycle, the Ami exists within a unique niche. The vehicle can be driven by 14-year-olds in France, is affordable, and has small dimensions perfectly suited to urban landscapes.
Leaping forward along the mobility timeline, the French brand also brought its Skate concept to CES 2022. Citroen Autonomous Mobility Vision is designed to free up urban traffic flow with a fleet of interconnected robots. Travelling down dedicated lanes, the skates would be fitted with pods created by different service companies for different purposes. Users would gain 24/7 access to the service of their choice, from a family-friendly space to a gym or a media lounge.
Stellantis also drew attention to Fiat’s New 500, the latest all-electric version of the iconic model. Currently available in Europe, Israel and Brazil, the model will be launched in Japan this year. It sports a range of up to 320km (WLTP), which increases to 460km in the urban cycle. Equipped with SAE Level 2 assisted driving, the car is offered in three different body styles: hatchback, cabrio and 3+1.
The automotive giant also displayed the DS E-TENSE FE21 at CES, a single-seater Formula E car. The luxury marque uses motorsports as a testbed for its latest electric technology, with a focus on software. As of 2024, DS will only launch BEVs, making this competitive development process critical. Stellantis also showcased plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe and the Grand Cherokee 4xe. There was also the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, first seen in March last year.
Two industry giants
Regarding the new agreements with Amazon, the internet giant will employ its technological and software expertise to advance the carmaker’s vehicle development, connected capabilities, and training. Part of the multi-year arrangements will see Stellantis using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its preferred cloud provider for vehicle platforms.
Another connected focus of these collaborations will be the STLA Smart Cockpit. The system will feature in Stellantis vehicles from 2024 and will integrate with customers digital lives to create a personalised in-vehicle experience. This will mean AI-enhanced applications, Alexa-enabled voice assistance, navigation, vehicle maintenance, e-commerce marketplaces, and payment services.
‘Working together with Amazon is an integral part of our capability-building roadmap, based on both developing internal competencies and decisive collaborations with tech leaders, and it will bring significant expertise to one of our key technology platforms, STLA SmartCockpit,’ said Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis. ‘By leveraging artificial intelligence and cloud solutions, we will transform our vehicles into personalised living spaces and enhance the overall customer experience, making our vehicles the most wanted, most captivating place to be, even when not driving.’
Since 2018, Stellantis has provided tens of thousands of light-commercial vehicles (LCVs) to Amazon. These support its last-mile operations in North America and Europe. As the online retailer looks to go net-zero by 2040, it will become the first commercial customer of the new Ram ProMaster BEV launching in 2023. Designed with unique last-mile delivery features, the vehicles will be deployed to routes across the US.
‘We are excited to collaborate with Stellantis to transform the automotive industry and re-invent the in-vehicle experience,’ said Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon. ‘We are inventing solutions that will help enable Stellantis to accelerate connected and personalised in-vehicle experiences, so that every moment in motion can be smart, safe, and tailored to each occupant. Together, we will create the foundation for Stellantis to transform from a traditional automaker into a global leader in software-driven development and engineering.’
Official figures show that the transition to electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) is picking up speed as consumers in the European Union continue to opt for more environmentally-friendly cars.
With governments across the bloc having to meet strict CO2 emissions targets, carmakers and drivers have benefitted from incentives and subsidies for electric cars. While EV registrations surged in the third quarter of the year, fossil-fuel cars saw a clear slump.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) found that the market share for EVs continued to surge in the three-month period. In the quarter, battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) accounted for 9.8% and 9.1%, respectively. This means that across the EU, EVs made up almost 19% of all new-car registrations.
The increase could be seen in Europe’s major automotive markets as Germany, France, Italy and Spain all reported rising demand for BEVs. Across the EU, registrations of BEVs soared nearly 57% year-on-year to more than 212,000 units in the third quarter. ACEA said this was ‘despite the overall decline in registrations of new cars over the three-month period, with growth being boosted by BEV incentives in various markets.’
PHEV models also saw a rise in registrations, jumping almost 43% to more than 197,000 units. Demand was particularly strong in Italy and Spain.
Picking up pace
Carmakers in Europe have stepped up the pace to manufacture more EV battery plants to meet the rising demand for electric cars. With the European Commission planning an effective ban on internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles from 2035, OEMs need to adapt quickly to the fast-moving transition to EVs.
A recent flurry of announcements makes clear that manufacturers are keen to build more factories and grow their electrification efforts. For example, Ford plans to invest £230 million (€272 million) in its British Halewood site, where it intends to build electric power units for the brand’s future BEVs.
While ICE vehicles will not disappear from the roads in 2035, they are becoming less attractive to consumers. ‘Conventional petrol and diesel cars continued to lose ground, almost completely absorbing the impact of the overall decline in car registrations of the last three months,’ ACEA said.
From July to September, registrations of petrol cars – which remain the biggest sellers and accounted for almost 40% of the new-car market – shrank by 35% to roughly 855,000 units. Overall, their share dropped from almost 48% in the third quarter of 2020 to below 40% this year.
Diesel cars fared worse. Registrations of new diesel cars more than halved across the EU, falling from nearly 770,000 units last year to around 380,000 in the third quarter of 2021. Diesels accounted for less than 18% of the market – less than hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which captured more than a 20% share.
Is there a risk that regulation and electric mobility will result in only the relatively wealthy being able to afford electric vehicles? Dr Christof Engelskirchen, chief economist at Autovista Group, explores who will be able to afford a BEV and how governments can address emerging inequalities.
Capitalism and inequality are evident where there is economic success in the world’s most powerful nations. What is more, COVID-19 has widened the wealth gap. Societies would struggle to stimulate investments without the outlook to secure substantial profits. Those businesses that compete for the best workers are prepared to pay higher wages for better, more skilled, more productive employees. Democratically-elected governments are often tasked to moderate these inequalities. Typical areas for government intervention are in health care, regulation of monopoly power, access to education, and taxes.
It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has further widened the wealth gap. According to the Global Wealth Report from Credit Suisse, the number of millionaires globally rose by 5.2 million to over 56 million in 2020. One driver has been the rebound in property prices and the stock market, following the continued loose monetary policy of many central banks. Overall, the strategy seems to have paid off so far: economies have rebounded.
Regulation and fiscal policy, alongside governments trying to meet climate change targets, are driving markets towards electric mobility, not a technological superiority of the powertrain. Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) are heavier, have lower ranges and are currently more expensive to produce. Governments, and the societies that elect them, have set their hearts and minds on carbon neutrality. Some governments are adopting powerful industrial policies to combat climate change, which will benefit society. So far, so good, but this type of regulation and fiscal policy is contributing to a greater social divide.
‘Green’ incentives target new vehicles
Government incentives are largely targeted towards new-car buyers, who usually belong to the more affluent part of a society. In many countries, these incentives have made the total cost of ownership (TCO) profile of the battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and even the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) advantageous compared with an internal-combustion engine (ICE) equivalent. The wealthier part of a society also benefits from incentives to install charging infrastructure at home, which de facto requires them to have a home with suitable parking access to be able to charge an EV. This excludes those living in flats and those with houses but no driveway or allocated parking outside the property. For some, these requirements can trigger investments in terms of groundwork, but they can increase the value of a property.
The European Green Deal and government incentives have also reduced the supply of used ICE vehicles hitting the market, which in turn has resulted in rising prices. Selling a used car has become lucrative. Buying one has become very expensive. Used-car prices in the UK have risen by 19% on average since February 2019 (see table below). These days, used-car buyers are not only challenged by the ongoing supply-chain issues, but also by the regulation-driven drop in ICE vehicle supply.
Many markets are speeding up the transition of energy production to carbon-neutrality. This has resulted in rising costs for electricity. In Germany, the price per kWh, including taxes, was 30 cents in 2020 and around 19 cents in France. Bulgaria is at 10 cents. One reason for this is the prevalent energy mix.
If we take the argument one step further, many eastern European countries struggle with carbon-neutral energy production, charging infrastructure and provision of much lower or non-financial incentives to switch to BEVs. All of this washes through to lower demand for BEVs. Eastern Europe will depend on the ICE much longer. With ICE vehicle supply falling off a cliff, eventual spikes in prices for used ICE vehicles will be painful to absorb for households that are dependent on individual mobility solutions in the form of a used vehicle. Already today, used-car prices have risen by between 12% and 15% for ICE vehicles in Poland (see table).
Price-index development 28 August 2021 vs. 2 February 2020 in %
by fuel type across age groups
There are good reasons why those that can afford to are asked to fund innovations first. The first successful BEVs targeted innovators and early adopters at the luxury end of the market. Mass-market BEV production had failed previously. However, this is changing, as OEMs are beginning to announce lower-cost BEV models. BEVs are making a serious attempt not to be a third car in a household but a second and eventually a first.
The inequality argument
We are now at a point where governments must consider the inequality argument around individual mobility solutions, particularly as lower-income households could miss out. Home-office jobs are hardly an option for those doing manual labour. This means that governments and OEMs need to think hard about what they can do to limit inequalities and increase the potential market for the BEV.
Key actions that should be on OEM and government to-do lists:
- Every new car becomes a used-car, and if there is little demand for a particular used-car, supply meets lack of demand, and the loss in value is dramatic. In turn, this prevents the model from being successful as a new car. Every sale would have to be subsidised heavily to compensate for the loss in value. Stakeholders would do well to consider every lever to make a new car successful as a used car. Our top 10 mistakes when launching a new model apply to the BEV in the same way as for any other car. For the BEV, there is a key mistake that stakeholders should not make: OEMs should hold off launching a lower-range variant alongside normal or longer-range ones. There are two reasons for not varying ranges right now. First, it avoids focusing the buyer’s attention on a particular weak spot of the BEV; secondly, as range advances, the lower-range variants will be particularly lame ducks on future used-car markets.
- Governments and cities should stimulate demand for used BEVs by incentivising not just the purchase, but also their ownership. Besides addressing the infrastructure challenge, there is a need to compensate for the lower suitability for daily use compared to a used ICE vehicle. Ideas range from access to restricted lanes or city areas, tax exemptions, lower electricity prices, free or reduced parking costs, or straightforward purchase incentives.
- OEMs should focus a lot of attention on bringing list prices down for the BEV, e.g. by launching no-frills affordable model variants that excel in terms of range and connected services but less elsewhere. These models could attract a lot of attention on used-car markets.
We are at a tipping point in electric mobility adoption. The technological advancements are reputable, and the industrial policy is substantial. Electric mobility could see an unanticipated push back if we forget to stimulate its relevance on used-car markets. There are different buyer profiles and disposable incomes on used-car markets, compared to new-car markets, which represents a particular challenge for the technology. This can be addressed and moderated, but requires more attention by governments and OEMs, than it currently gets.
Sales of electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs), including battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), are growing rapidly across Europe. Yet many countries are relying on incentives to drive this adoption. Does this gamble help or hinder the burgeoning EV sector in the new- and used-car markets?
Autovista24 looked at this issue in its latest webinar, The EV subsidies gamble: Impact on new- and used-car markets. The topics discussed included:
- The state of Europe’s EV market
- The market-adoption conundrum – new vs used
- What can Europe learn from Norway, the continent’s leading EV market.
Autovista24 editor Phil Curry is joined by Dr Christof Engelskirchen, chief economist of Autovista Group, Roland Irles, managing director of EV-Volumes, Robert Madas, head of valuations & insights Austria, Switzerland, and Poland at Eurotax, and Geir Kristoffersen, managing director of Rødboka Norway, to discuss the EV situation.
Find the full slide deck for the presentation below. Available for viewing and download.
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