While Tesla will retain global sales top spot for at least another year, Volkswagen – already leading in Europe – will likely overtake it as early as 2024 according to a new major report on the global EV sector by research firm Bloomberg Intelligence (BI).
The report entitled ‘Battery Electric Vehicles Report – Automakers Race to the Top’ finds that the profit incentive to catch up with Tesla is lacking for most traditional marques in the short term amid rising battery costs and a lack of scale, except for Volkswagen.
The German automaker is on track to overtake Tesla’s BEV volume in 2024 as global BEV demand is set to more than double out to 2025. BI’s analysis shows China’s BYD ranking third for BEV sales globally in 2025 followed by a glut of legacy automakers languishing around the one million annual BEV sales mark. It is not until later in the decade that US and Japanese automakers will be serious challengers for a top 3 spot.
In a bid to challenge Tesla’s $686 billion dollar market cap – which is almost double that of all US and EU legacy automakers combined – the report highlights that legacy automakers are unlikely to succeed in divesting BEV-related assets that are intertwined with their combustion operations and whose cash flows are paying for the transition.
Volkswagen is the exception and is on track to launch an IPO of its Porsche brand. Given the company’s potential 30% BEV sales mix in 2023 and about 45% in 2025, it is significantly ahead of peers and could attract a luxury based 85 billion euros valuation for the IPO and, possibly, an even higher tech-oriented valuation, according to the report.
Says Michael Dean, Senior European Automotive Industry Analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence:
“Looking ahead, automakers in Europe, China and elsewhere will continue to challenge Tesla via an impending wave of new models, though profit incentives are limited amid rising battery costs and a lack of scale. That may change in 2025-26 as more brands achieve critical mass on new-generation models with proprietary software. There are a number of challenging external factors to consider and bold BEV ambitions have done little to prevent crisis-level valuation multiples, stoked by recession fears, rising interest rates, supply-chain constraints and inflation.”
Battery prices remain critical to the cost competitiveness of BEVs and Volkswagen is investing up to EUR30 billion in the supply chain, including the opening of six new battery-cell plants in Europe by 2030. Swedish battery developer Northvolt starts production on premium cells for it in 2023, notes BI, while Audi’s midsize Q4 BEV SUV already has a similar margin to its internal-combustion-engine counterpart, the Q3.
Adds Steve Man, Senior China Automotive Industry Analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence:
“China’s carrot-and-stick approach to stoking EV sales could push battery-electrics to account for 25% of all passenger vehicle purchases by 2025. Sales in China have surged since the launch of the country’s new energy vehicle credit program despite erratic component supply.”
Volkswagen, BMW and other foreign brands’ sales in China may come at the expense of pricing and profitability, having ceded first-mover advantage to Tesla and local makers. BYD, Nio, Xpeng and other local firms are rapidly closing the technology and branding gaps, wooing consumers not only with driving range and power, but also lower prices, luxury trim and even virtual-reality entertainment.
The full report “BI Battery Electric Vehicles Report – Automakers Race to the Top” is available via the following link. The BI report specifically forecasts automaker’s battery electric vehicles sales up to 2025. For a longer-term view on electric vehicles up to 2050, please refer to BloombergNEF’s latest Long-Term Electric Vehicle Outlook 2022.
Figure 1: Top ten automakers BEV sales forecast to 2025