FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Europe is leading the push toward battery-powered cars as electric vehicles enter the mainstream — even as the industry faces challenges including supply shortages, a grid erratic recharge and an impending recession.
The routine electric approach is being showcased at a scaled-down Paris auto show this week as automakers show off models aimed at delivering on Europe’s promises to phase out internal combustion cars from by 2035. Automakers at the show include Chinese manufacturers who analysts say are making rapid technological progress as they explore expansion in Europe.
Here are the main themes of the Paris show, which opens to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition center:
Electric-powered cars accounted for 41% of second-quarter sales in Europe, with 9.9% battery-only cars and the rest hybrids combining electricity and internal combustion, according to the European Automakers Association. automobiles.
The gains are due to regulatory pressure, tax breaks, improved battery life and a wider range of vehicles to buy.
“The electric revolution is in full swing,” wrote analysts at research firm Sanford C. Bernstein. “Automakers are finally turning to electric vehicles and consumers are buying every electric vehicle they can find.” Bernstein analysts say electric cars are “no longer a niche” and that “Europe is likely to lead the way” due to strict emissions requirements.
By 2025, a quarter of all cars sold globally will likely be battery-only or hybrids combining internal combustion and electric motors, they predict.
Adoption has been slower in China, where the higher cost of producing electric cars leaves them beyond the purchasing power of many consumers despite government incentives. Battery and hybrid cars accounted for 13.8% of the market for all of 2021. In the United States, regulatory pressure from government emissions requirements has increased or decreased depending on whether a Republican or Democrat sits in the White House ; the electric share was around 4.5% in 2021.
At the Paris Motor Show, electric is now the rule among the big revelations. They include the battery-powered Jeep Avenger small SUV from Stellantis and the Peugeot 408 plug-in hybrid, while Renault offers an electric version of its Kangoo small van and a rugged SUV concept car dubbed the 4Ever Trophy. Mercedes-Benz unveiled its EQE crossover at an off-site event at the Rodin Museum on the eve of the show.
There is still a long way to go before 2035, when European Union emissions regulations require a 100% reduction in carbon dioxide exhaust emissions from automobiles, effectively requiring that all new cars are electric. This is part of the EU’s efforts to meet its commitments under the 2015 Paris climate agreements. Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas scientists have attributed to climate change.
AUTO SHOWS IN POST-PANDEMIC DECLINE
The Paris auto show – officially the Mondial de l’Automobile – is back for the first time since 2018, but has been significantly scaled back since the last edition drew more than a million people.
It has been shortened to six days from 11 and misses major automakers such as Volkswagen and BMW from neighboring Germany. Instead, the focus is on the French home team: the Peugeot, DS and Jeep brands of Stellantis and rival Renault.
Paris once alternated every other year with what was then the Frankfurt Motor Show as Europe’s major motor show. The Paris 2020 show was lost due to the pandemic, and in 2021 the Frankfurt show moved to Munich and moved some aspects outdoors or online while including bikes. It attracted 400,000 visitors, compared to 560,000 in 2019.
The hangover from the pandemic and its disruption to travel, along with environmental concerns and changing ideas about how to market cars, have impacted auto shows. Companies often prefer to unveil new models themselves, often with an online component, without the expense of a large auto show booth or putting their product next to countless competitors. The annual Geneva show was canceled in 2020 and did not return to its Geneva base. She is planning a show in Qatar in 2023.
A key presence alongside the French companies will be Chinese market entrants BYD, which is showing three electric vehicles, and Great Wall, whose Ora brand is set to feature the compact Funky Cat.
BYD offers the Atto 3, a five-passenger midsize SUV “designed for European customers”. The company says the design merges European and Chinese culture through a “dragon face” design language in which the headlights and horizontal grille bar symbolize a dragon’s eyes and mustache. The interior features “gym-inspired” design, such as barbell door handles and a kettlebell-shaped gear selector. Seats and headrests are in vegan leather.
Chinese automakers have only a small presence in Europe, selling just 1,706 vehicles last year according to figures compiled by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.
But analysts say they have made rapid progress in electric cars and the introduction of new driver assistance technologies – and could be a major factor in the years to come.
Things have changed since an unsuccessful attempt to enter the European market 15 years ago, said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Automotive Management Center in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. Now they’re making a second attempt “which looks a lot more promising.” But he warned that breaking into the highly competitive European market would take time.
“Chinese automakers are showing strong innovation in electric mobility,” Bratzel said. “At the same time, through cooperation with European suppliers, they have significantly improved the quality of vehicles.”
In the Chinese market, the world’s largest foreign automakers “may suffer more competition than they expected” from domestic brands, Bernstein analysts wrote.
WIND AGAINST INDUSTRY
Europe’s automotive industry is facing serious headwinds, primarily due to shortages of parts such as the semiconductors essential to increasingly sophisticated automotive electronics.
Car sales fell 9.9% for the first nine months of the year. On top of that, many economists are predicting a recession this winter. High energy costs due to the war in Ukraine and the reduction of natural gas supplies by Russia are depriving consumers of purchasing power.
Automakers are currently able to manage order books and demand higher prices, but that won’t last, says Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the CAR Center for Automotive Research in Duisburg, Germany.
“It will be over in 2023,” he said. “Then, it is the customers who will be rare” and the discounts on the prices will return. It predicts overall sales will fall to 10.8 million in Europe, down from 11 million this year and well below the pre-pandemic peak of 15.8 million.
Another stumbling block in Europe’s path to 100% electric: There’s a huge gap between countries with lots of chargers and those with few, according to the European automotive industry association . The Netherlands has one every 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) of road, while Poland has one every 150 kilometers (93 miles). He says the gap “risks stalling market uptake of electric cars” and called on the European Parliament to push member states to build more charging stations.
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