While battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) have always been popular historically, many have made strong arguments for the greater emphasis in the short term to be focused on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Much of the argument in favour of plug-in hybrids has centred around the number of recharging stations around the U.S., although this situation has been resolved somewhat with the introduction of home charging units. So, is there a shift towards BEVs?
US electric car data
A recent report on electric vehicles (including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) has cast a very interesting shadow on the US market. Taking in some of the more popular brands such as BMW, Ford, Chevy, Honda, Mercedes, Porsche, Tesla and Toyota it seems that the tide is turning favour of BEVs.
The like-for-like sales situation in August 2015, compared to the corresponding month in 2014, shows an improved split of 58/42 in favour of BEVs compared to a much closer call in 2014 of 51/49. Indeed the year-to-date figures for August 2015 and 2014 show a much improved 62/38 split in favour of BEVs against 51/49 in the corresponding period. It does seem as though finally there is progress in the battery electric vehicle market and this may well be at the expense of hybrids.
Why the changing trend?
As we touched on above, while there have been improvements in the number of charging facilities available to electric car users this is not the only reason for the change in trend. Even though the new and ever improving electric vehicles certainly grab the headlines, there have been amazing progress in the area of battery power. Indeed Elon Musk is talking of a vehicle that would be able to do 1000 km per full charge by 2017, which would be a phenomenal achievement in anybody’s eyes.
In many ways it is a coming together of various elements of the automobile industry which has assisted the improvement in battery electric vehicle sales. Many of the well-known brands have brought updates to the marketplace, new companies are joining on a regular basis and each day seems to bring even better news on battery technology. While initially billions of dollars were poured into the more visible electric vehicle design sector we are now seeing similar amounts of investment in the area of battery technology.
Who are the main winners?
It is difficult to take a relatively short period in isolation but if we compare August 2015 sales to August 2014 the winners would appear to be BMW and Mercedes, with Tesla leading the way. As we mentioned it is dangerous to take short periods in isolation because these figures can be impacted when new models are expected on the marketplace and many hold back to see what they offer. Some of the older elements of the electric car market may need to refresh their product range with companies like Toyota and Nissan seeing a slight reduction in their 2015 year-to-date sales compared to 2014.
However, if there is one thing we can take away from these figures it is the fact that battery electric vehicles are more popular than they ever have been and while hybrids will always have a part to play in the electric vehicle market, perhaps they will be playing second fiddle to BEVs in the future?