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Tesla Takes Leadership Position in BEV Market While European Automakers Dominate Top Four PHEV Spots in 2020, Says TrendForce

The dual stimuli of policies and legislative changes for new energy vehicles (NEV) have brought about a corresponding growth of battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in 2020, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Market data compiled by TrendForce indicate that combined yearly sales of BEV and PHEV in 2020 reached about 2.4 million units, a 19.8% increase YoY. Aside from the vehicles’ sales growth against industry headwinds generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a noticeable change in the market share and sales ranking of NEV manufacturers this year owing to the increased number of models released as well as the growth of markets outside of China.

TrendForce indicates that the combined market share of the top five BEV automakers declined from 77% in 2014 to a mere 46% in 2020. Of the top five, only Tesla saw an increase in market share, meaning the competition in the BEV market has been intensifying over time. Since releasing the budget-friendly Model 3 in 2018, Tesla has not only been focusing on its home turf in the U.S. market, but also attempted expanding in the European markets and establishing domestic manufacturing in China in order to score wins in terms of sales and market shares. Thanks to these efforts, Tesla is expected to retain its number one spot in 2020, while any other BEV automaker appears increasingly unlikely to secure even a 10% market share.

In the increasingly competitive BEV market, various domestic automakers in China, such as BAIC and Baojun, have seen their respective market shares plummet, with their spots on the top five ranking subsequently replaced by global automakers including Volkswagen and Renault. The two European automakers entered the top five list this year on the backs of their newly released entry-level models and the continuous growth of the European market. On the top five list, BYD and Wuling, the latter of which scored remarkable performances, remain the only Chinese automakers. In particular, Wuling entered the top five for the first time ever primarily due to the release of its economy car, the Wuling Hongguang Mini, priced at RMB¥28,800.

On the other hand, although PHEV and BEV represent the dominant types of NEVs, their respective market structures vary greatly due to the automakers’ strategies. The release of new models by European automakers has started paying off since 2019, with European automakers almost sweeping the top five list against Chinese and Japanese competitors in 2020. BMW, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz, which are luxury brands based in Europe, took the top three spots, respectively, in the PHEV market. However, as they maintain similar market shares, the top three spots are likely to change at a moment’s notice.

Looking ahead to the NEV industry in 2021, TrendForce indicates that the industry will see increased diversity in both car models and types. In addition to offering vehicles with different types of powertrains, automakers will likely differentiate their models from their competitors’ offerings by seeking competitive advantages in pricing, use case, and consumer preferences in order to meet different regional demands. Global automakers will accelerate their electrification efforts in 2021 since the NEV market is still one with high potential, while industry leaders are expected to adopt aggressive market strategies, such as refreshing their existing lineups and releasing new models. It should be pointed out, however, that regional differences in various markets may serve as key factors affecting market shares and rankings going forward. Case in point, there is still a high demand for entry-level models in the Chinese market, while European consumers still prefer European automakers.

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