8 EV Market Trends to Expect in 2024

KEY TAKEAWAYS

What does 2024 hold in store for Electric Vehicles? From the increase in charging stations, to more subsidies at a government level, to the freedom to “battery swap”, we make some evidence-based predictions about the sector for the year ahead.

The Electric Vehicle (EV) market is set to move into a new development phase in 2024 — after a year in which sales have reached a new record high.

Global EV sales climbed by 43.66% in the first nine months of 2023 and exceeded 1.5 million units in September, according to data compiled by battery raw material supplier Syrah Resources.

US EV sales jumped by 50% year on year during the third quarter of this year to reach a record high above 300,000, according to Cox Automotive data, putting the country on track to surpass more than 1 million EV sales for the full year.

Global Monthly EV Sales

Source: SYRAH Resources

However, traditional automotive manufacturers have shown signs of slowing down the pace of their EV production, while Chinese EV manufacturers are expanding their international presence to shore up sales as the domestic economy slows.

What are some of the market trends to be aware of for the coming year?

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8 EV Market Trends to Expect in 2024

1. Slowing EV Growth Rates

After the strong year-on-year growth in EV sales in 2023, the pace is expected to slow next year as the market attempts to expand beyond early adopters to more price-sensitive mainstream buyers.

Several manufacturers have made substantial price cuts in 2023, with Tesla cutting prices for its Model 3 and luxury Model S cars by 25% as competition has grown.

Ford President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jim Farley said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call:

“EVs are still in high demand. It’s just the pricing is much lower, and there’s a lot of overcapacity in the middle of the market,”

Swiss bank UBS has cut its forecast for global EV market share to 47% in 2030 from 54%. The bank’s analysts expect sales growth in Europe and the US to slow to 10-15% in 2024 from 25-50% in 2023, citing high consumer uncertainty, shrinking subsidies in some countries, higher discounts for vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE), and a limited range of more affordable models.

According to Scott Case, co-founder and CEO of battery monitoring platform Recurrent.

“Demand is as high as ever, but there is a shortage of affordable electric models. In fact, EVs that have seen price cuts are leading the market.”

“What we’re really seeing here is the headwinds that high-priced, luxury EVs face in an increasingly difficult economic situation.

Consumer interest rates are soaring, lease terms are three times what they were a few years ago, and many shoppers are aware that there are better incentives and new affordable models to be had just around the corner.”

In the US, EV tax credits will be transferable to point-of-sale discounts from January 1, 2024, saving buyers up to $7,500 on new EVs and up to $4,000 on used EVs as a rebate or down payment.

2. Pure-Play EV Manufacturers Will Remain in the Driving Seat

Legacy automotive manufacturers like Volkswagen, Toyota Motor, Stellantis, Mercedes Benz, and Ford are launching EV models to remain competitive as EV market share grows. Still, they are less nimble than EV-only manufacturers like Tesla, BYD, Nio, and XPeng.

Pure-play EV manufacturers can move faster than legacy automakers and capitalize on that first-mover advantage in technology innovation.

Traditional manufacturers face challenges in making the EV transition as they face cost pressure and strikes among unionized workers in the US – which have partly been motivated by concerns about EV manufacturing processes that could threaten autoworker jobs.

Old School Carmakers Are Losing The Global EV Race

Source: Bloomberg

Ford, GM, and Mercedes have all reduced their forecasts for EV sales in 2023 and scaled back production plans. At the same time, Tesla has been able to cut prices for its Model Y car — on track to be the best-selling car globally this year — with higher profit margins than most ICE vehicles.

China’s BYD shifted in 2021 to only manufacture EVs, and this year has overtaken Volkswagen as China’s best-selling car brand. During the third quarter, it approached Tesla’s global EV sales.

3. Chinese Manufacturers Accelerate International Expansion

Chinese automakers are looking to capitalize on their success in their domestic market by expanding their production and sales abroad to hedge against a potential slowdown.

China has the world’s fifth largest EV share of passenger vehicle sales – behind Norway at 80%, Iceland at 41%, Sweden at 32%, and the Netherlands at 24%, according to the World Resources Institute.

But given its size as the world’s largest car market, it leads by far in outright sales. In 2022, China’s EV market share amounted to 22% of passenger vehicles at 4.4 million sales —that far outpaced the 3 million EVs sold in the rest of the world combined.

Global sales of electric, hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles are expected to climb by 32% to a total of 17 million units in 2024, according to Chinese automotive parts supplier SuperAlloy Industrial.

Chinese automotive manufacturers lagged behind other countries in producing ICE vehicles. Still, they saw the opportunity to make strategic investments in EVs at an early stage to export batteries and vehicles to international markets. The government has also supported EV adoption as a way to reduce air pollution and dependence on oil imports.

The Chinese domestic passenger vehicle market share for EVs was 40.4% in November, as retail EV sales increased by nearly 40% year on year to reach 841,000 units. Cumulative year-to-date retail sales reached 6.81 million units, a 35.2% year-on-year increase. The resilience of the EV sector in the face of a broader economic slowdown in China indicates structural growth in the EV sector. However, Chinese automakers are looking to international markets in 2024.

4. Chinese Automakers to Enter Europe

Under the Chinese government’s Made in China 2025 industrial strategy, it has set a goal for the country’s largest two EV manufacturers to generate 10% of their sales abroad by 2025.

As one of the two, “BYD is actively seeking to tap the overseas markets, banking on both exports and local production,” the company stated in a recent filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. “Our global expansion pace will pick up.”

BYD started delivering a European version of its sedan in November and plans to launch a mid-size SUV in Europe in 2024. XPeng sells vehicles in four European markets and plans to enter the German market in 2024. Leapmotor, too, is planning a European expansion in 2024.

Dutch automaker Stellantis has acquired a 20% stake in Leapmotor and will form a joint venture to help the Chinese EV startup expand into Europe. The deal includes an option to manufacture vehicles in Europe, reflecting Chinese automakers’ plans to start local production to avoid import tariffs and shipping costs.

5. The Battle for Electric Truck Market Share

Next year will see the top automakers battling for a share of the emerging electric truck market. Advances in battery technology that can power larger vehicles over longer distances before they need to recharge have enabled automakers to develop viable electric trucks.

Tesla will begin mass production of its much-anticipated and long-delayed Cybertruck in 2024. The angular exterior design, dual or tri-motor powertrain enabling rapid acceleration, and large towing capacity have captured auto enthusiasts’ attention and given it a competitive advantage.

Top Five Trucks That Tesla Owners Are Considering

Source: Bloomberg

The Cybertruck will compete with 2024 truck releases from the likes of Ford, with its updated F-150 Lightnings models, GM’s Chevrolet Silverado, which boasts a 450-mile range per charge, GMC’s Sierra pickup, and Toyota’s Tacoma. Volkswagen’s Scout brand has designed its first electric truck for the US market, while Ram is introducing a new pickup with a 168-kilowatt hour (kWh) standard battery pack that has a 350-mile range and the option to upgrade to a 229kWh battery pack that will give the truck a market-leading 500-mile range, according to the company.

6. Battery Swapping to Avoid Charging Woes

One of the main obstacles to broader EV adoption is a lag in building public battery charging infrastructure.

While there are many initiatives among automakers to develop extensive charging networks to serve urban areas, highways, and rural regions, the concept of battery-swapping stations has emerged as a way to fill the gap while the infrastructure is put in place. Battery-swapping technology allows drivers to remove battery modules from their vehicles to replace them with fully charged packs in minutes rather than having to wait for the battery to charge.

China’s Nio launched a battery-swapping service in 2020 and has installed more than 2,000 swapping stations across China, as well as 30 in Europe. The company signed deals in November with Changan Automobile and Geely to jointly develop standards for swappable batteries and expand and share battery swapping networks in Chinese cities.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz recently formed a joint venture in China to install at least 1,000 stations in their China Super Charging Network, with the first planned to start operating in 2024.

In Europe, Nio has delayed its move into the UK from 2024 to 2025 to allow time to ensure it has sufficient battery swapping capacity in place. Meanwhile, Stellantis has established a partnership with US-based Ample to use its modular battery-swapping technology in Stellantis EVs. The initial program is scheduled to start in 2024 in Madrid, Spain, using a fleet of 100 Fiat 500e models in Stellantis’ Free2move car sharing service.

“The combination of offering compelling electric vehicles that can also receive a full charge in less than five minutes will help remove the remaining impediments to electric vehicle adoption,” Khaled Hassounah, CEO of Ample, stated in the announcement.

In addition to battery swapping, bi-directional battery charging is set to expand in 2024, expanding the ways EV owners can use their vehicles.

7. Changing Battery Chemistries

Battery swapping could also help EV manufacturers manage a short-term decline in energy density and driving range caused by a shift in battery chemistry.

Most EV batteries use a lithium-ion electrolyte in the cathode and a graphite anode. Lithium-ion batteries with nickel-based cathodes — either lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) or nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) — provide higher energy density and longer driving range than batteries that use lithium-ion phosphate (LFP). However, volatile market prices and concerns about the supply chains for these metals are prompting manufacturers to look for alternatives.

LFP batteries are regaining market share from NMC, and many companies are accelerating the development of technologies such as silicon anode, solid-state lithium-ion, and sodium-ion batteries, which offer more stable chemistries while reducing nickel, cobalt, and graphite content.

For instance, SK On Company, the EV battery manufacturing subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate SK Group, has developed a solid-state electrolyte material and is scheduled to complete the construction of a pilot plant in 2024 with the aim of producing prototypes by 2026 for mass production in 2028. And Toyota is collaborating with energy and chemicals firm Idemitsu Kosan to establish a supply chain for solid electrolytes over the coming years, to start pilot production in 2027-2028.

On the sodium-ion front, BYD has signed a deal with Huaihai Holding Group to jointly build a sodium-ion battery production base in China, while CATL said earlier this year that Chinese EV maker Chery would be the first to use its sodium-based batteries. Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt announced in November it has developed its first generation of sodium-ion cell, although it is designed primarily for energy storage, and the company aims to develop subsequent generations with sufficient energy density for EVs.

US-based Sila is among the companies building a silicon anode battery materials plant, and will supply its anode to Panasonic Energy for lithium-ion batteries that provide longer driving range and reduced charging times.

8. Governments to Shift the Emphasis of EV Incentives

Given that EVs are typically more expensive to manufacture than ICE vehicles, governments in various countries have supported initial adoption in their countries by paying incentives in the form of rebates, loans or tax credits to consumers, and in some cases manufacturers, to adopt EVs.

AS EV sales have increased rapidly over the past few years, some governments are adjusting the focus of their incentives.

The US government is notably directing automotive manufacturers to build out a domestic EV supply chain through the Inflation Reduction Act, which stipulates that vehicles containing battery components from a “foreign entity of concern”, such as China, will no longer be eligible for its $7,500 federal tax credit from January 1, 2024.

In Australia, the states of Victoria and New South Wales government are removing purchase incentives for new EV from January as suppliers have cut prices. Still, they will reallocate some of the funding to install more charging stations to continue encouraging uptake.

The Thai government has extended its EV subsidies for consumers — which were set to expire at the end of this year — to 2027, although it has cut their value as EV uptake in the country has increased rapidly. The strong growth of the domestic EV market and subsidies for manufacturers have encouraged foreign investment in Thailand, which is southeast Asia’s automotive hub, as it aims to position itself as the region’s EV production base. A growing number of Japanese and Chinese vehicle manufacturers have announced plans to expand their presence in the country.

While EVs produce fewer carbon emissions than ICE vehicles over their lifespan, there are concerns about the environmental impact of the manufacturing process, as well as shipping finished vehicles over long distances.

The French government aims to address this by introducing new cash incentives for EV buyers starting January 2024, which will consider the vehicle’s raw materials, production and components. This means a vehicle manufactured in China in a facility powered by coal-fired electricity would not be eligible, while vehicles produced using renewable energy in France and the EU would.

The Bottom Line

The year ahead will likely see significant shifts in the EV market as manufacturers adapt to changing economic conditions, competitive landscapes, and technological developments.

While there could be a short-term reduction in the rate of uptake in 2024, global EV sales are forecast to continue growing as part of the broader energy transition to reduce carbon emissions. New vehicle models and government incentives will play an important role in encouraging consumer adoption.

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Nicole Willing

Nicole Willing has two decades of experience in writing and editing content on technology and finance. She has developed expertise in covering commodity, equity, and cryptocurrency markets, as well as the latest trends across the technology sector, from semiconductors to electric vehicles. Her background in reporting on developments in telecom networking equipment and services and industrial metals production gives her a unique perspective on the convergence of Internet-of-Things technologies and manufacturing.