Report: Virus to Clobber EVs in the Short Term, and Then…?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
report virus to clobber evs in the short term and then 8230

The analysts at BloombergNEF foresee a rough year ahead for global auto sales, putting their crystal ball in alignment with everyone else’s. Hardly a shock that the worst pandemic in a century would weigh heavily on consumer spending and confidence.

For electric vehicles, however, the virus stands to rock this segment’s boat to a lesser degree than its mainstream counterparts — which isn’t to say there’s smooth sailing ahead.

With EVs, the water’s always rough. Even last year, when no new car buyer had ever heard of the coronavirus and economies were chugging along in relatively decent shape (especially in the U.S.), EV sales growth was small.

Hampered by a persistent — though steadily diminishing — problem of insufficient product breadth and range, coupled with inflated prices born of battery cell expense, EV sales in the U.S. rose from just under 239,000 vehicles to 242,000 units in 2019. Tepid growth in a market that sank, overall, by about 1.5 percent.

The world over, EV sales grew only 5 percent against an overall industry decline of 4 percent last year. A downturn in the economy of the world’s most prolific EV consumer, China, did a number on the electric vehicle’s growth rate.

Globally, BloombergNEF expects new vehicle registrations to sink 18 percent in 2020, Reuters reports, which is actually less of a drop than combustion-engined vehicles. That cohort will see their numbers fall 23 percent, BNEF projects. As EVs attract both higher prices and a certain class of clientele, their volume isn’t seen as quite as vulnerable to market forces like a virus. As well, the number of new EVs on the market is, like their range, growing, helping spur adoption.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is set to cause a major downturn in global auto sales in 2020,” said Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport at BNEF, adding, “The long-term trajectory has not changed, but the market will be bumpy for the next three years.”

In the U.S. at the very least, the new vehicle market was already expected to remain cool for a period of years, with Europe looking much similar. Speaking of that region, restrictive legislation and stringent emissions mandates mean the future looks bright for EVs, whether automakers want to sink money into their development or not. They don’t have a choice.

Many programs were already bearing electrical fruit or were well underway when the pandemic hit; most will proceed, though it remains to be seen just how much of an impact the economic hit from the coronavirus will have on future EV development spending.

Looking far into the future, BNEF sees electric vehicles making up 31 percent of the world’s road-going fleet by 2040, with 58 percent of new vehicle registrations that year coming from EVs.

[Image: Nissan]

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  • Ajla Ajla on May 20, 2020 This is a funny. Between Elon turning into a 4Chan poster and the various products on the horizon imagine if BEVs somehow became a *right-wing* symbol. Dual Gadsen flags flying behind your massive new Tulsa-built Tesla Cybertruck.

  • Dividebytube Dividebytube on May 20, 2020

    I was hot to buy a Tesla Model 3 LR AWD for my next car. Then the lockdown happened. And I was furloughed for five weeks. And when I went back to work, I was greeted with a 10% pay cut. And then the company I work for is now pushing for more furloughs because our sales are very low right now. However my amount of work hasn't decreased - not with a reduced staff! Thankfully my wife is still working, though it's a bit harder for her to hit the monthly bonus thresholds. Needless to say we're in saving mode, not "Let's buy a car!"

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.