Strategy&_EVSR Q4 2023_PocketData. Foto: PWC Strategy& Deztschland

Study tip: German carmakers gain ground in China

E-mobility is continuing its growth trajectory and has broken important milestones in 2023, but lost momentum worldwide and in Germany towards the end of the year. This is shown in the Electric Vehicle Sales Review by PwC Autofacts and Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consultancy, which analyzes new registration figures in 20 selected markets worldwide. In China, more than 2 million battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were sold in a single quarter for the first time in 2023. In the USA, BEV sales figures climbed above 1 million in the whole of 2023. Despite the records, growth slowed slightly overall. Global BEV sales increased by 28% in 2023, compared to a 60% increase in 2022. After a strong third quarter, Germany recorded a slight dip at the end of the year. In December, 48% fewer BEVs were sold than in the same month of the previous year. The main reason for this was the abrupt end of state subsidies. Over the year as a whole, Germany even fell behind the EU average of 21% growth with 11% BEV growth. The previous laggards Italy and Spain in particular grew significantly with growth rates of 35% and 66% respectively. Nevertheless, Germany remains by far the most important market for BEVs within the EU, accounting for 42% of European BEV sales.

German OEMs make up ground

While demand for BEVs fell slightly in their home market, German car manufacturers are racing to catch up in international competition and were able to significantly increase their BEV sales worldwide and in China, their largest sales market. Accordingly, German OEMs sold 49% more BEVs in China last year than in the previous year, while the overall market only grew by 24%. In the fourth quarter of 2023, German manufacturers even grew almost three times as fast as the Chinese market with an increase of 63%. Despite this race to catch up, the absolute sales figures of German car manufacturers in China remain at a low level. Their market share rose by just one percentage point to 5% in 2023. Worldwide, German OEMs increased their BEV sales by 47%, while the market as a whole grew by 28%. The German manufacturers’ global market share is therefore 14%, which corresponds to an increase of 2 percentage points.

“For German car manufacturers, 2023 was a decisive year in many respects. On the one hand, they were able to make an impressive comeback with competitive models, even outside of the premium segment. At the same time, they are increasingly realizing that the e-car market has finally arrived in the mainstream – including price wars and cuts in state subsidies,” says Felix Kuhnert, Partner and Automotive Leader at PwC Germany. “Although 2024 will be characterized by geopolitical uncertainties such as the election in the USA, we expect new momentum in the market overall. However, the abrupt end of subsidies in Germany in particular is putting pressure on local manufacturers for the time being, especially as Chinese manufacturers are pushing into Europe with innovative and affordable models. It is therefore crucial for German OEMs to expand their product range and offer competitive models, especially in the 20,000 to 30,000 euro range.”

Used car market for BEVs is gaining relevance

From the perspective of potential buyers, it is now also worth taking a look at the newly emerging BEV used car market. According to the Strategy& analysis, BEVs in Germany are currently being offered at an average of 10 percent cheaper than comparable models with combustion engines three years after the initial purchase. The price advantage for cheaper BEVs with a purchase price of less than 55,000 euros is almost double that of premium models with new prices from 70,000 euros, at just under 12 percent. As there are now 1.2 million BEVs on the road in Germany alone, the supply of used BEVs is also automatically increasing. At the same time, customers are increasingly including used BEVs in their purchasing decisions. According to the eReadiness Study 2023 by Strategy&, 60 percent of all customers worldwide can imagine buying a used electric car, in Europe the figure is as high as 71 percent.

“Used BEVs are often not only significantly cheaper, but are also available much faster than combustion engines due to the sometimes long delivery times. Almost all manufacturers now offer an eight-year warranty for the problem child battery, which prevents many people from buying a used BEV,” says Jörn Neuhausen, Senior Director and Head of Electromobility at Strategy& Germany. “We therefore expect strong growth in the used car market in the coming years. On the one hand, this creates great potential for new business models such as the valuation of used batteries, but also gives the topic of recycling enormous momentum. If sufficient investment is made now and in the right places, Europe will be able to cover almost a third of its demand for lithium, nickel and cobalt in battery cell production with recycled material by 2035, and even more than two thirds by 2040. This not only strengthens economic sovereignty, but is also worthwhile for the companies involved, who can make a profitable and sustainable business out of recycling batteries in Europe even before 2035.”


German OEMs are catching up globally and growing twice as fast as the overall market in the BEV sector in China in 2023 – Sales in China climb above 2 million BEVs for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2023, the USA breaks the mark of 1 million electric vehicles sold in the full year – Nevertheless, the BEV market is losing momentum slightly worldwide and in Germany – Used BEVs are currently 10% cheaper on average than combustion engines three years after purchase – OEMs must expect even greater price pressure in 2024 and focus on models in the €20,000 to €30,000 range

Read more articles, studies and interviews on electromobility & autonomous driving in the current issue of eMove360° magazine in german language. Print edition – also available as an annual subscription – can be ordered in the eMove360° store.

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04.04.2024   |  

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