According to TrendForce data, total sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs including battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles) in 1Q22 was 2.004 million units, an annual growth rate of 80%. Battery electric vehicles (BEV) demonstrated the strongest growth with sales reaching 1.508 million units. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) sold 493,000 units. Growth in NEV sales did not come easy, as global auto market sales (regardless of powertrain type) fell by 7% YoY in 1Q22 due to factors such as the chip shortage, Russian-Ukrainian war, and China’s pandemic lockdown and prevention measures.
In terms of BEV brands, Tesla’s sales in 1Q22 exceeded 310,000 units, ranking first with a market share of 20.5%. Chinese automaker BYD ranked second with 143,000 units and a market share of 9.5%. BYD announced in April that it would stop producing fossil-fueled vehicles and transform fully into a NEV manufacturer. Its BEV sales rose sharply by 271% in 1Q22 compared to the same period last year. Wuling, a subsidiary of SAIC-GM, has been ranked second since the launch of the Wuling Hongguang MINI in 2020 but dropped to third place in 1Q22. The main contributor to this was the multitude of models positioned as miniature and low-priced launched in the past year such as the Chery Ant and Changan Benben. As similar products arrived on the market, sales competition hindered growth.
In terms of PHEVs, BYD once again broke its quarterly sales record. Sales volume in 1Q22 reached 142,000 units, with a market share of 28.8%. As more PHEV models gradually appear in the market, it has become increasingly more difficult to capture a large market share. It is worth noting that the sales volume of PHEVs in the European market was lower in 1Q22 both when compared with the same period last year and when compared to 4Q21, affected the performance of some European brands.
TrendForce expects that most automakers will adopt a strategy of prioritizing the production of EVs. Therefore, continued growth in the sale of NEVs is expected in 2022. However, automakers will be under greater cost pressure this year. In particular, the Russian-Ukrainian war has greatly increased the cost of power batteries. This has caused automakers to increase their prices. Some countries including China will withdraw car purchase subsidies which dampens the market for low-priced mini-cars that previously supported the rapid growth of NEVs. Factors such as global inflation will become variables in the future growth momentum of NEVs.
As a consequence of rising power battery raw material prices, a number of global new energy vehicle (NEV) brands including Tesla, BYD, NIO, Li Auto, and Volkswagen, have successively raised the sales prices of electric vehicles (EV) in 1Q22. TrendForce believes that power batteries are the core component that account for the greatest portion of an EV’s overall cost and reducing the cost of power batteries will be an important strategy for companies to remain competitive in the future. As technology continues to innovate, lithium iron phosphate batteries are expected to account for more than 60% of installed capacity in the global power battery market by 2024.
TrendForce indicates, from the perspective of the world’s largest EV market, China, the power battery market reversed in 2021 and lithium iron phosphate batteries officially surpassed ternary batteries with 52% of installed capacity. Lithium iron phosphate installed capacity continued to grow in 1Q22, rising to 58%, and demonstrating a growth rate far beyond that of ternary batteries. However, from the perspective of the global EV market, thanks to the increase in the penetration rate of NEVs in Europe and the United States, ternary batteries still accounted for a market share of more than 60% in 2021, far exceeding that of lithium iron phosphate batteries, which captured a market share of approximately 32~ 36%.
Although the current gap between these two materials remains substantial, according to production capacity planning of global new energy battery cathode material manufacturers in the past two years, the scale and speed of lithium iron phosphate materials expansion will far exceed that of ternary materials. According to TrendForce investigations, planned expansion projects announced by global cathode material manufacturers are currently concentrated in China and South Korea, with a nominal total planned production capacity of over 11 million tons, of which planned production capacity of lithium iron phosphate cathodes accounts for approximately 64%. However, since planned production capacity exceeds market demand, there will be a certain shortfall between the industry’s total planned production capacity and actual future production capacity. It remains to be seen to what level actual effective production capacity can rise in the future.
It is worth noting, as the price of core battery raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel has moved up clearly since 2H21 and the global power battery supply chain is plagued by uncertainty including the Russian-Ukrainian war and the global pandemic, there will be a short-term disparity between the growth rate of supply and demand and companies will focus more on reducing the cost of battery materials and supply chain security, two major issues related to future competitiveness. As a result of this trend, TrendForce expects the cost-effective advantage of lithium iron phosphate batteries to become more prominent and this type of battery has an opportunity to become the mainstream of the terminal market in the next 2-3 years. The global installed capacity ratio of lithium iron phosphate batteries to ternary batteries will also move from 3:7 to 6:4 in 2024
In 2021, total sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs including battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles) reached 6.473 million units, with annual growth rate reaching 122%, the highest growth rate since the development of vehicle electrification, according to TrendForce’s research. Battery electric vehicles (BEV) accounted for approximately 71.6% of total sales and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) accounted for approximately 28.1%, while the scale of fuel cell vehicles remained small.
Tesla ranked first among BEV brands with total global sales exceeding 930,000 vehicles and a 20.2% market share. SAIC-GM-Wuling ranked second, posting strong sales numbers for their low-priced mini electric vehicles in 2021. Other BEV brands such as Ora and Chery have also greatly increased sales performance on the backs of mini-vehicle products. The significance of this segment in the NEV market is considerable. On the whole, a reinvigorated BEV market has birthed a number of new brands that have further fractured market share. The concentration of market share among the top ten BEV brands dropped from 64.4% in 2020 to 57% in 2022, indicating an escalation of market competition.
BYD ranked first in PHEV sales with 273,000 vehicles sold in 2021, accounting for 15% of the market. Both BYD and seventh ranked Li Auto posted multifold growth, suggesting China’s reduced PHEV subsidy policy exerted minimum impact on the market. In addition to a number of luxury European brands holding their spots on the sales ranking, TOYOTA moved swiftly into fifth place while Jeep, a part of the Stellantis group and known for its performance cars, ranked 10th with the lion’s share of sales coming from the United States and Europe.
From a regional perspective, NEV sales in China once again exceeded half of the global total in 2021 while NEVs accounted for 19.3% of China’s overall auto market. TrendForce states, in addition to fierce competition, the Chinese market also includes numerous new brands, accelerated mass production, joint venture brands adjusting strategies, and overseas deployment of domestic brands targeting Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
In addition, with the European Union strongly promoting electrification, the penetration rate of NEVs in several leading countries such as Germany and France is expected to reach 20~25% in 2022. In terms of the currently trailing US market, the Biden administration’s many policy incentives have focused the actions of brands and supply chains which include the introduction of ever-popular (in the U.S. market) battery electric pickups by a number of automakers. In addition, many new brands such as Rivian, Lucid Motors, Fisker, and Lordstown Motors have successively entered the mass production and assembly stage of vehicle manufacturing or plan to enter mass production in 2022, making the future of the U.S. electric vehicle market worth observing in terms of quantity and competition.
As the global trend of energy conservation and carbon reduction remains unchanged and automakers shift greater proportions of their product lines to electric vehicles, the total number of NEVs is forecast to exceed 10 million in 2022. However, the international situation is turbulent, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict has caused the price of crude oil to rise. In addition, Ukraine supplies neon gas for the semiconductor process and Russia is a producer of nickel ore. Nickel is a key material for electric vehicle batteries. Once the war heats up, the automotive industry will bear the brunt of rising costs and unstable supply chains, which are variables for the development of NEVs in 2022.
According to TrendForce’s estimates, the global automotive market will sell 88.6 million vehicles in 2022, growing 10.1% YoY. This estimate includes deferred demand due to automakers’ production cuts in 2021. However, numerous uncertainties still bedevil the overall automobile market in terms of production while supply chain issues and the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to continue impeding automobile sales. In addition to supply chain issues, global inflation caused by rising energy and upstream raw material costs has also become a hidden economic burden in various countries. When the overall cost of living increases, the automotive market will experience the ensuing negative impact.
NEVs expected to exceed 8 million units in 2022 as competition intensifies
The penetration of electric vehicles into the automotive market is accelerating. The estimated combined sales of BEV and PHEV in 2022 will be in excess of 8 million units. Regulations also remain an important driving force for the market. There is fierce competition among automakers and automakers of disparate types and backgrounds have distinct future development priorities. However, accelerating capacity expansion is the primary developmental focus for all types of automakers. The years 2022-2024 will be the target for many emerging automakers to achieve mass production. This will further promote heightened competition in the electric vehicle market including in price, performance, technical specifications, etc.
In addition, after the rapid growth in sales of electric vehicles, TrendForce has articulated that retired batteries have become another business opportunity. Both China and Europe have new regulations pending which place requirements on electric vehicle battery performance, recycled materials, utilization rate of recycled materials, battery second-life (echelon utilization), disposal, etc. In addition, specific battery information and traceability is also commonly promoted as part of these regulations, which entail additional time pressure on automotive companies and the supply chain due to various management measures required in the battery life cycle. A multitude of demands spur car manufacturers and supply chains to seek external partnerships and increased investment to meet regulatory requirements.
As the pace of electrification accelerates in the global automotive market, and various governments worldwide implement subsidy policies that encourage consumer EV purchases, sales of new energy vehicles（NEV, which includes BEV/PHEV/FCV）are continuing to rise as well. NEV sales for 2021 are projected to reach 4.35 million units, a 49% increase YoY.
Due to the vast scale of the Chinese market, as well as domestic policies favorable for the growth of BEV/PHEV/FCV, various NEV brands have quickly emerged in China in recent years, such as BYD Auto, Aion（formerly GAC NE）, and BAIC BJEV. At the market’s peak, NEV manufacturers in China once numbered in the hundreds, although that number has since dwindled somewhat, as the intense competition resulted in declining sales and market shares for many automakers, including BAIC and JAC.
Four rising stars among emerging NEV manufacturers in China include NIO, XPeng, Lixian（or Li Auto）, and Weltmeister, all of which have been shipping tens of thousands of mass production vehicles each year. In particular, while NIO, XPeng, and Lixiang registered significant growths in the past few years, Weltmeister also ranked number two in terms of sales in 2019, though it fell to fourth place in 2020 as it delivered fewer vehicles compared to the top three competitors last year.
In light of the aforementioned four automakers’ current expansions, TrendForce has summarized several key aspects of their growths, including the following:
1. Autonomous Driving Technologies: Autonomous driving is not only part and parcel of these automakers’ core competencies but also a reflection of what consumers and investors expect of the automotive industry. In pursuing advanced autonomous driving technologies, the four automakers have been adopting increasingly powerful processors and computing platforms, with Nvidia being the most common partner among emerging NEV manufacturers. Remarkably, XPeng stands out as the only player making a noticeable effort to develop in-house chips.
2. LiDAR: LiDAR is integrated into an increasing number of vehicles in response to the growing demand for advanced self-driving functionalities. Although LiDAR remains out of reach for vehicles in certain price segments, autonomous driving sensors including LiDAR are no longer limited to flagship models since new NEV models’ E/E architectures are expected to be compatible with OTA updates.
LiDAR sensor demand from NEV manufacturers has significantly increased because only by pre-installing hardware ahead of time in their vehicles can automakers enable autonomous driving functionalities as a paid subscription service through OTA updates later on.
3. Battery-swapping: Battery-swapping are relatively attractive for the Chinese NEV industry for several reasons: First, battery-swappable vehicles are excluded from China’s NEV subsidy limits*; second, automakers can now afford to lower the retail price of vehicles by turning batteries into a subscription service; finally, it’s much convenience for driver because battery swapping is faster than battery charging.
For instance, NIO’s entire NEV lineup is compatible with both battery charging and battery swapping. NIO has been pushing its BaaS（battery as a service）and second-gen battery swap stations since 2020. On the other hand, Weltmeister and XPeng are also making their respective battery-swapping strategies.
4. Capacity Expansion and Overseas Strategies: The aforementioned four automakers all place a heavy emphasis on both expanding their production capacities and growing their overseas market shares. Their capacity expansion efforts include building in-house production lines, acquiring other facilities, or jointly funding automotive production with OEMs/ODMs. Regarding overseas expansion, their primary destination is the European market, which is relatively favorable to NEVs.
For instance, NIO and XPeng choose Norway as their first target market in Europe. However, while the European automotive market is conducive to the growth of NEVs in terms of both policies and cultures, competition among automakers is also correspondingly intense. In addition, most European countries prefer either domestic brands or other European brands. Therefore, Chinese automakers must prioritize gaining consumer trust via establishing a trustworthy brand image.
*China’s subsidies for NEV purchases are restricted to NEVs with a retail price of CN¥300,000 and under. However, NEVs with swappable batteries do not fall under this restriction.