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Germany has overtaken the USA to become the world’s second-largest market for electric vehicles. Generous subsidies for electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles have led to a boom in Germany and Europe. New vehicle purchase premiums of up to EUR 9,000 have kick-started demand, allowing Germany to overtake the US as the world’s second-largest market for electric vehicles according to the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW).
China remains the largest market for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles with 1.25 million new registrations in 2020, although demand is falling with the market growing by just three percent in the same period. However, global demand has increased by 38 percent, fueled by demand from Europe, led by Germany with a 264 percent increase (395,000 vehicles). The demand has given a fillip to domestic vehicle manufacturers, with VW recording 422,000 new electric car and plug-in registrations in 2020. The Wolfsburg-based car giant overtook Tesla for the first time in Q4/20, selling 192,00 electric cars (compared to Tesla’s 181,000 over the same period).
German auto manufacturers doubled their global production of electric and plug-in vehicles last year, producing more than a quarter of all electric passenger vehicles made worldwide.
German auto brands continue to dominate the world’s most valuable auto brands despite the harsh effects of the coronavirus crisis on the auto industry. According to the Brand Finance Global 500 2021 ranking, the country’s auto industry dominates globally with a cumulative brand value of USD 201.8 billion.
Mercedes retains its position as Germany’s most valuable brand across all industry sectors, with VW, BMW, Porsche, and Audi all occupying spots in the global top 10 most valuable auto brands. German companies in the top 10 have a combined brand value of USD 197.2 billion – equivalent to 54.7 percent of the top 10 most valuable auto brands.
Having successfully made the move to electric vehicles, VW has announced ambitious plans to revolutionize its business model. According to Handelsblatt, the Wolfsburg-based concern is currently working on a “Business Model 2.0” strategy that will see its primary focus placed on software and services provision. The digital transformation presaged by VW is premised upon the future value of electric and autonomous vehicles being measured in terms of digital services. To that end, VW is examining the possibility of partnerships with start-ups like Isar Aerospace in order to develop solutions for car connectivity to the satellite internet.
Handelsblatt reports that, although the further course of action will be determined in the coming years, the project is already in progress within VW development departments. In March, VW presented its technology roadmap for battery and charging up to 2030, with ambitious plans for a number of charging cooperations, a new unit battery cell and six battery-cell factories across Europe.
German carmaker Audi intends to build its own charging infrastructure of between 200 and 400 stations for electric vehicles. Speaking to Handelsblatt, Audi CEO Markus Duesmann argued the necessity for the plan, citing the fact that at least 30 percent of Audi cars sold in Europe will be electric in the next four years. “We don’t want sales of our vehicles to fall due to a lack of charging stations.”
The VW subsidiary has however come in for criticism from the German Federal Association for E-Mobility, which believes that Audi’s draft plan fails to conform to existing specialized laws and regulatory fundamentals as well the associated infrastructure for electric mobility. Germany’s transport ministry is investing almost two billion euros in extending the charging infrastructure along the national motorway network.
Daimler Trucks and Volvo are set to join forces for the joint development of fuel-cell systems following EU competition regulator approval. The decision leaves the way open for the two companies to establish the new company focused on the research and development, production and sales of heavy truck fuel-cell systems. The venture will see Volvo acquire 50 percent of the company for around EUR 600 million, with the transaction set to be finalized in the first half of the year.