If we want to know where automakers are heading, we should look at their suppliers.
It’s no surprise that 2019 will be a turning point for electric cars in Europe, mostly for two reasons. This year marks the arrival of the Tesla Model 3 in Europe – which forces European premium automakers to act – and the more demanding emissions test cycle WLTP will finally completely replace NEDC this September.
Here is a video from a secret meeting where European automakers “convinced” EU officials to lower emissions standards, then they found out the Tesla Model 3 was real.
Until now the Tesla/Panasonic Gigactory 1 was getting all the – well deserved – attention with its impressive annual battery cell production capacity expected to surpass 35 GWh soon. Notice that Tesla Gigafactoy 1’s production capacity of 35 GWh includes batteries for electric cars and ESS (Energy Storage Systems).
However, LG Chem has its own Gigafactories in South Korea, China, USA and Poland. Let’s see their combined EV battery cell annual production capacity.
- 2017: 19,9 GWh – enough for 398.000 EV battery packs (50 kWh each)
- 2018: 36,5 GWh – enough for 730.000 EV battery packs (50 kWh each)
- 2019: 68,1 GWh – enough for 1.362.000 EV battery packs (50 kWh each)
- 2020: 97 GWh – enough for 1.940.000 EV battery packs (50 kWh each)
I think that 50 kWh is a good average figure for an EV battery pack, considering that some electric cars will have small battery capacity (30-40 kWh), others medium capacity (50 kWh) and some high capacity (from 60 to 100 kWh).
From LG Chem’s planned production capacity for different factories we can deduce some things:
- North American automakers such as GM and Ford aren’t serious about electric cars yet. Might change after 2020.
- South Korean automakers such as Hyundai and Kia don’t plan to increase their electric cars production enough to completely meet the high demand.
- China is a difficult market for foreign battery cell makers.
- European automakers finally start to get serious about electric cars. The boom begins later this year and gains momentum in 2020, when virtually every automaker will have at least one electric car model on sale.
Besides LG Chem, Samsung SDI also has its EV battery plant in Europe (Hungary) and is already producing the new 120 Ah battery cells found in the BMW i3. Moreover, in early 2020, SK innovation will also start producing battery cells in Hungary.
By the way, the Nissan LEAF is now the best-selling car in Norway. It’s clear that the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) age is ending in Norway and other European countries will follow.
Anyway, I’m curious mostly about two things.
- Will European premium automakers understand that to have a good alternative to the Tesla Model 3 they’ll have to produce an equally efficient EV? Start caring about efficiency will represent a major mindset change for premium automakers.
- In Europe superminis dominate the market and the Renault Clio competes with the Peugeot 208. Therefore, I’m very curious to see the Renault Zoe versus the Peugeot 208 EV. Also curious about the Peugeot 208 EV’s cousin, will the Opel e-Corsa be a better car than the Opel Ampera-e?
What about you? What are the major developments you expect to see soon in Europe and other markets regarding electric cars?
Thanks Michał for the heads up.