Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) have taken off since 2019, with new battery-electric and plug-in hybrids making up nearly 25% of all new car sales in Europe last year.
Drivers now enjoy more choice than ever with compelling new Kias, Volkswagens, Renaults, BMWs, and others joining the ubiquitous Tesla Model 3 and perennial Nissan Leaf. But the speed by which we charge towards an EV future has very little to do with consumer choice and far more to do with government regulation.
Myth – Consumer Choice Drives EV Adoption
Since 2020, governments across the world’s most important new car markets have either announced or reinforced their prohibition on the sale of new diesel and petrol-powered vehicles (ICE) within the next decade. This increasingly universal policy sparks what will become one of the largest technology transitions in history.
We are now only at the very beginning of our EV transition. The adoption of electric vehicles will reflect their increasing penetration of all new car sales (i.e., up to 100% by 2030) and the ageing out of older ICEs, which typically have an average life of only about 20 years.
Therefore, the shape of our adoption curve has very little to do with whether consumers like electric vehicles or how deeply they commit to more climate-friendly technologies and far more to do with regulatory mandate. Indeed, while the tenacity of us older folks in holding on to beloved greenhouse gas-emitting ICEs can shift the curve slightly, escalating operating costs limit how long we might be prepared to do this for.
So, the die is cast, but…
Investors love certainty, and what could be more certain than a government mandate? In regulating against ICEs, governments compel manufacturers to shift to 100% EV production by 2030 or risk losing access to key new car markets. However, global new car production comprises a stunning 100 million per year. These are huge numbers, and while governments conscientiously acknowledged the climate emergency, they may struggle to hold their mandate in the face of a challenging manufacturing transition.
Here in the UK, government has initiated a consultation on their ZEV mandate, which defines “trajectories” by which manufacturers will be held to EV supply volumes in the run-up to 2030 and beyond. While such consultation is not necessarily overdue, investors keep a keen eye out for any sign that the deadline may not hold.
It’s unlikely that the UK would fall out of step with governments around the world. However, there is a pragmatic reality around how fast manufacturers can convert to a 100% EV production. Investors are paying close attention, as it’s the pace of that adoption curve that drives predictable demand for EV charging infrastructure.
Catch up on our Steer New Mobility: Busting Myths - EV Vehicles series...