Fact checking the narrative that EVs are slowing down

Guest Editor: SFA (Oxford)

Recently, there has been extensive media coverage on consumers switching away from battery electric vehicles (BEVs), in favour of their cheaper, internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts. SFA’s latest quarterly report contextualises (and dismisses) this claim. What the articles tend to focus on, is the year-on-year growth rates slowing down. In fact, BEV production still grew by almost 3 million units in 2023 and total BEV production smashed through the 10 million milestone.

GlobalData’s latest forecast estimates an additional 3.4 million BEVs will be produced per annum over the next five years, equating to almost 30 million BEVs produced by 2028, equivalent to 29% of total light-duty vehicle production. There remain certain, significant challenges that need to be overcome if this forecast is to be realised, however. 

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First and foremost of these is that growth is increasingly moving away from China and towards Europe and North America. 

Variance in regional consumer preferences must therefore be accounted for. What sells successfully, and what consumers can afford to pay, is very different in USA compared to China. Variance in driving habits, such as daily mileage and average driving speeds, also leads to differing technical requirements for the cars themselves, not to mention charging infrastructure requirements. This in-turn has implications on the most applicable battery technology.

Furthermore, the entire battery supply chain in the two regions is (relative to China) nascent. Any delays in establishing any part of this supply chain will have a knock-on impact, ultimately leading to OEMs not realising the cost savings as quickly as they are anticipating and therefore consumers will not get to buy the cheaper BEVs that they want. 

Government policies also play a crucial role.

Any targets should be transparent, achievable, and stable. Businesses (and consumers) need to have the confidence that their decisions based on today’s policy environment will not be made redundant next week, lest they adopt a ‘wait and watch’ approach, delaying critical projects to meet the above timeline. Similarly, artificial trade barriers and excessive protectionist policies will limit the long-term sustainability of the local industry, by preventing competition with the best-in-class alternatives. Limiting consumer preference to the best available alternatives will also hamper EV uptake in the short-term.

Join us at The Oxford Battery Metal Lectures, where we will hear directly from the industry on how they are addressing these challenges (or others) to meet, if not exceed, BEV targets. Representatives span the entire supply chain, from a major lithium producer to leading EV manufacturers… and everything in between (including the largest independent battery supplier and Europe’s first planned integrated lithium operation). Debate, network, and learn directly from the world’s foremost experts and make your own judgements on if EVs are truly slowing down.

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