In the United States, the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) market, which seemed to be lagging behind China and much of Europe, rekindled in 2022.
According to the PwC study, the BEV market in the country grew by 88% compared to the previous year.
This represents the highest growth observed across all analyzed markets, cementing the United States as one of the emerging leaders in the industry.
This resurgence can be attributed to the substantial investment made by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in new and innovative models, government incentives, and the progressive improvement of charging infrastructure.
Meanwhile, China managed to sustain its significant expansion from previous years, with an 85% increase in sales in 2022.
Electric vehicle sales in the five major European markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom) grew by 39% in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
Germany leads this growth with 66%, followed by the United Kingdom with 40%.
However, Italy experienced a 34% decline due to economic accessibility issues for buyers.
Other European markets such as Sweden and Norway also recorded notable increases, at 84% and 76% respectively.
Regarding the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) market, China’s exceptional growth in 2022 (150%) stood out in contrast to the rest of the world.
In fact, sales in the five major European markets only grew by 1.2% in 2022.
This is because OEMs prioritize the sales of these vehicles to meet emissions reduction targets, and incentives for PHEV purchases are lower.
Apart from the United States, which diverges from the global trend of reducing incentives for electric vehicles, several countries have started to cut back on incentives, believing that these have served their purpose and trusting that increased consumer interest and more regulatory frameworks would drive the growth of the electric vehicle market.
More affordable battery materials are in focus
Emerging companies in the United States and Europe are competing to develop batteries using sodium and sulfur, abundant and inexpensive materials.
Currently, China leads in lithium-ion battery production, which is now used for these types of vehicles, as well as in the extraction and refining of the corresponding raw materials: lithium, cobalt, and nickel (prices of which have surged).
If sodium-ion or lithium-sulfur batteries were used instead of these, there could be reduced dependency on China, avoidance of potential supply chain bottlenecks for necessary materials, and an easier increase in supply at more accessible prices.
Regarding this, Jorge Zabaleta, a partner at PwC Argentina and leader of the Automotive Industry, stated:
“The sector faces significant challenges, including the issue of batteries, as sodium-ion batteries still do not store enough energy, and sulfur batteries deteriorate easily and currently have a short lifespan.”
Will there be an increase in demand for fuel cell vehicles?
Another interesting point from the report is that the sustained growth of the BEV market has led to growing interest in fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) that use renewable hydrogen.
The anticipated reduction in hydrogen production costs in the coming years is expected to drive FCEV demand and bring about changes in the market.