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www.esi-africa.com | Micro electric vehicles changing the nature of the EV sector

28 May 2013 – How is it that some analysts put pure-electric car sales at hundreds of thousands in 2012 whereas others report a mere 60,000 to 65,000? At analysts IDTechEx we feel that a lack of rigor is largely to blame because there are cars homologated as such and car-like vehicles that are not homologated as cars. The contrast is stark. Only 65,000 true pure-electric cars, homologated as such, were sold globally in 2012, very much a failure compared to the 1,522 million hybrid electric cars sold.

However, car-like vehicles not homologated as cars, but competing with them, have now also reached centre stage. They go under many names and have many sub-categories but, in the past, the only car-like electric vehicles of any significance that are not homologated as cars and have sold in any quantity have been golf cars (golf carts). All analysts leave those out of their car statistics. Highly profitable and with about 80% of sales controlled by two US manufacturers they are used very little beyond the US. The golf market is saturated. On the other hand, a US$5.2 billion business is being created by 2023 for other car-like vehicles with completely different manufacturers, territories of interest and in being on-road rather than off-road.

The new success is the car-like micro electric vehicles (EVs), classified as quadricycle in Europe, where the Renault Twizy at the top of this market sold in thousands on launch in 2012. It is a lot of money to pay for a vehicle little bigger than a quad bike and with no windows, but this is really a fun product rather than a car replacement. However, in sales volume and potential, it is a sideshow compared with the larger Micro EVs in the developing nations. These are getting the biggest orders and a robust increase in sales is predicted to a projected global demand of three million units in 2023.

Sub-categories underwriting this growth in sales of micro EVs include e-trikes and here we are talking about on-road taxis, not just private car-like vehicles. This also overtakes another, older car-like sector − Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) − relatively expensive enclosed micro-cars not allowed on main highways but only in such things as gated residential communities in the USA. Leaders here were Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) with an ugly duckling design that failed to sell more than tens of thousands over more than a decade and ZAP. GEM was sold to Polaris Industries, who seem to think that better engineering and promotion may do the trick.

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