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Category Scan: Electric Vehicle Market Declined in 2020 But There's Still Good News

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by Beroe Inc
28 February 2021


While the fleet market took a hit like most other industries due to the pandemic, the electric vehicle sales declined by only 14 percent compared to the overall vehicle sales decline of 28 percent in 2020, says Beroe Inc.

The fleet management companies and car leasing companies are steadily increasing their dependency on electric vehicles as large MNCs have started framing electric vehicle policies. These car fleet management companies are piloting EVs in multiple countries and providing incentives to their staff for adopting this more environment-friendly mode of travel. This trend will see an upward surge in the next couple of years after the global EV market clocked a growth of 9 percent in 2019.

The reason for the thrust on electric vehicles comes from the increasing interest in investing in alternative fuel options. Governments are offering tax subsidies and incentives that have driven up EV sales. The debate on carbon emission has pressed organizations to look at zero-emission options. Autonomous vehicles are the future of mobility, with ride-hailing and car-sharing companies piloting the services. OEMs are investing and partnering with technology companies to develop AI platforms to manufacture a better autonomous vehicle, expected to provide higher safety and increase the overall efficiency.

The pandemic has forced global organizations to enforce policies to ensure higher safety for employees by selecting safer vehicles, implementing safety protocols for vehicle operation and disinfection. Commercial fleet leasing companies are framing standard operating procedures to ensure the vehicle's hygiene, which includes wearing masks, sanitizing the vehicle, daily temperature checks, etc.

In North America, the U.S. continues to be the most affected nation. Its automotive market is still clocking a double-digit fall (-20 percent), while Canada slightly reversed its sales decline and is now standing at -8.9 percent. Commercial fleet sales have gone down by 30 percent in the U.S. in six months.

When it comes to Europe, sustainability, and reduction in vehicle CO2 emission are driving electric vehicle sales. Intermodal transportation and flexibility have enabled organizations to adopt mobility solutions. Alternate powertrain sales are increasing among retail and corporate buyers. Although the total cost of ownership of alternative fuel vehicles is higher than internal combustion engines, it is expected to improve with betterment in battery technology. 

In 2019, global plug-in vehicle sales reached 2,264,400 units --- a 9 percent growth from 2018. Although this is a departure from the previous year which clocked a 50 percent rise, it was majorly because of the decline in sales in the U.S. and China. In 2019, the global share of PHEV and BEV stood at 2.5 percent. However, owing to the increased adoption of electric vehicles among corporates in Europe, the market grew up to 44 percent. In the first half of 2020, the light vehicle market declined by 28 percent due to the impact of COVID-19. In comparison, EV sales' year-on-year decline was only 14 percent.

The fuel contributes to around 33 percent of a fleet vehicle's total cost of ownership. Until very recently, fossil fuels were fleet managers' preferred type. With governments framing laws and regulations globally to increase the use of low-emission modes of transport, corporates have started piloting EVs in developed markets of Europe and North America. Large MNCs are enacting policies and allowing employees to familiarise with electric vehicles through incentives and gamification. However, it is still in its nascent stage due to the high purchase price, lack of adequate charging infrastructure, limited number of models and low range. The adoption of EVs among corporates is expected to increase in the next couple of years.

The overall ground transportation industry is witnessing a fast-paced digital transition. Fleet leasing and management solutions are now data-driven. Digitalization of logs, tracking, ordering, and sales helps adjust the fleet budget to save cost.

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