EVs may reach price parity sooner than expected

Price parity between the cost of an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle and an electric vehicle (EV) is “getting really close”, says BloombergNEF senior associate, Andrew Grant.

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However, this can vary depending on the geography and the vehicle segment, Grant told the Smarter Mobility Africa conference last week.

Grant added that in some categories, the best-in-class EV might already be cheaper on an upfront basis for consumers than it would be for them to buy an ICE vehicle. He said a medium-sized battery-electric vehicle in the US could possibly be cheaper on an upfront basis for consumers than an ICE vehicle by 2024 or 2025.

Grant believes ICE vehicle sales might have already peaked on a global basis.

This conclusion was based on several factors, including policy trends such as policy incentives or upfront subsidies for EVs, the flood of investments into EV-charging infrastructure and the significant decreases in the price of batteries for EVs, which have reduced EV prices.

He says over 12.5 million EVs – plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles – had been sold as of the end of 2020, but EV sales had continued growing in 2021.

Grant says 1.4 million EVs were sold “just in the second quarter alone, which equates to about 8% of global total passenger vehicle sales" in this period.

However, Grant says the rate of adoption of EV is “very different” across different markets, with China, Europe and the US the three biggest markets for EVs.

“If you look at North America, EVs sales are just starting to get going and are at around 3% of vehicle sales each quarter.

“Contrast that to China where EVs sales in the last quarter are up to around 13% of sales. The hot market for EVs over the last 18 months is Europe, where sales are now closing in on that 20% mark at about 17% to 18% for EV sales as a proportion of total passenger vehicle sales each quarter,” he says.

Grant reckons EVs will account for about 70% of the global passenger vehicle sales mix by 2040.

He emphasised the role and importance of policy trends, whether they used “a carrot” to try and entice motorists to purchase an EV with tax incentives or upfront subsidies or policy incentives that encourage automakers to develop and sell lower emission or zero emission vehicles in driving EV sales.

Grant says the availability of appropriate EV models has been a big factor in the challenges facing EV adoption in the African market, particularly in South Africa.

He says EV sales in Africa have been high-end luxury vehicles that were not designed for mass market adoption.

Grant believes an improvement in EV model availability, particularly from Chinese automakers over the next few years and the next decade, will likely increase EV adoption rates in Africa.

“What we are seeing now is that as the vehicle prices are coming down, many automakers are realising that they can produce those entry level or mid-market vehicles and make them at an economic level and sell them in markets like South Africa and throughout Africa.

“It will be interesting to see from the African market what lessons are learnt from markets like Norway and more recent examples of strong policy interventions like Germany and how those can be adopted in Africa.

“There are a lot of policy incentives that policymakers have at their disposal in order to bring costs down,” he says.

Policy measures could also involve a range of more punitive incentives for importers of vehicles or restrictions on what automakers produce in the country to qualify for manufacturing grants, he says.

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