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Which Electric Vehicle OEMs Are Positioned For Market Dominance?

The market for plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) is growing more competitive, as a variety of auto manufacturers are increasingly offering plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. The early-adopter market is being driven largely by lower operating costs and the desire for zero-emissions driving.

However, these two key drivers are not proving to be as effective as expected, and the market is still struggling to expand toward a more mass-market audience. Higher upfront costs, higher-mileage gasoline-powered vehicles, and slow battery price decreases are dampening growth in the EV sector.

The operating costs of vehicles and environmental aspects may play a less important role in this market than other vehicle attributes, such as performance, cargo capacity and low purchase prices. The result is a market that, while continuing to grow with early adopters, is still relying on government purchase incentives and government emissions restrictions.

Our firm anticipates that although growth in the plug-in EV market will be robust, it will fall short of expectations set by OEMs and politicians in 2010 and 2011. Globally, the market for plug-in EVs will grow from 137,950 vehicles in 2012 to 1.75 million in 2020. The U.S. is expected to remain the largest market through the forecast period, with annual sales reaching 400,073 vehicles by 2020.

We recently evaluated the key players in the plug-in EV sector against a number of factors, such as go-to-market strategy; production strategy; technology; product performance, quality and reliability; and pricing. The companies rated against the criteria were then segmented as Leaders, Contenders, Challengers or Followers.

In the Leaders grouping, Chevrolet and Renault took the lead due to their respective product portfolios, product strategy, and vision of the plug-in EV market. These Leaders are likely to come as a surprise to some because they do not currently hold sales leads. However, we find that Chevrolet and Renault are well-poised for growth in the coming years. Both hold strong positions in the market that will enable them to respond effectively to future changes.
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