Global electric vehicle (EV) sales are estimated to drop by 43% year-on-year to 1.3 million by the end of 2020, a new analysis by market researcher Wood Mackenzie shows.
Besides the coronavirus pandemic, WoodMac points to potential delays to purchasing EVs due to lower oil prices, as well as a wait-and-see approach to buying new models, as reasons for downward estimates.
“Most new EV buyers are still first-time owners of the technology. The uncertainty and fear created by the outbreak has made consumers less inclined to adopt a new technology. Once the epidemic is contained in China, we suspect consumers will flock back to car dealers and reaffirm their confidence in EVs,” Ram Chandrasekaran, Wood Mackenzie Principal Analyst, said of the expected trend in the Chinese market.
China’s EV sales have accounted for around 5% of all vehicle sales for the past two years. In January 2020, they were down by 54%. It is estimated that in February EV sales have plunged by more than 90% year-on-year.
A reverse trend was found in Europe, where EV sales surged by 121% in January and continued through February, although not as much. At the time, Europe had not yet felt the impact of the coronavirus crisis on car sales since its first reported case came in late January.
In the US, the first lockdown measure was not introduced before March 20, but demand for EVs has already started to dry up, prompting General Motors to knock USD 10,000 (EUR 9,200) off its Chevrolet Bolt, Chandrasekaran said.
Additionally, US automakers have shifted their efforts to manufacturing medical equipment, putting cars on hold and postponing launch dates of new EV models until mid- to late 2021.
The combination of these factors, compounded with consumer attitudes, is likely to lead to EV sales reaching a plateau in the near term. According to WoodMac, new demand growth will not be seen before 2021.
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