Electric car boom in Europe starts this year

LG Chem Global Manufacturing Capacity

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

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Alok Tontini
2 years ago

I’m very curious abut pricing of the 208 EV and e-Corsa.
Also of Volvo XC40, since they had mention really low target prices, in the past. And Geely being the mother company, they might be serious about that, as well as about production rates. Hope it comes this year, not too late. It could be an awesome really best selling product.

Maarten Vinkhuyzen
2 years ago

I expect 60kWh to be the minimum configuration for most fully electric cars.
All the models with smaller batteries that we have seen the last 10 years were compromises between battery price and battery size. There is no volume market for cars with smaller than 60kWh batteries, with the exception for highly efficient cars like the Model 3 and Ioniq.
Perhaps some smaller models will also be offered in a lower trim level with a smaller battery.

Judging by Jaguar, Audi, and MB the average could very well be over 75kWh.

2 years ago

I’m really excited about the ID. Cute, not too small, not too big, nice battery size, again, not too small, not too big. 170 BHP more than plenty, I would easily settle for less if, price. Should have great build quality hopefully. We should be getting new info pretty soon, no?

Matteo Carrozza
2 years ago

There is no volume market for cars with less than 60kwh? Maybe in the US. But, depending on market, Renault Zoe is 1st or 2nd best selling car in Europe, and that is 40kwh. Although the 2020 version may have a 50kwh pack, they may retain the 40kwh.

Maarten Vinkhuyzen
2 years ago

The Renault Clio is selling in volume, the Zoe is not.

2 years ago

If you do sum up… In europe… 2017… More than 250.000 batteries… It seems not real… For evs. The only european manufacturer usig LG was Renault with the zoe 41 kwh real. And they sold less than 60.000 units on 2018!!##…
Where did the rest batteries went???
Renault was not selling more zoes because of lack of batteries… It seems to me LG or renault are lying… Or both

2 years ago
Reply to  Francesc

I am sorry. VW also… But hyundai imported the cars from korea… So… Any way i dont find numbers convincing

2 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

If they were able to sell them, that is?

2 years ago

I’ve been postponing buying an electric car for 2 years or so, waiting for models like model 3, 208 EV, VW ID and better versions of the current ones to finally come out, but i’m not sure if i should keep waiting anymore. I’m inclined for the Leaf 40kWh, but i’m also not sure it’s the best decision at this point. In general i like it and it suits my needs, but i would prefer a supermini, for example. Also it seems Nissan is taking advantage of the lack of (real) competition to increase the prices, which i don’t like.
So, Pedro, what do you think? Should i wait a couple months more or just go with Leaf 40kWh (or other) now?


2 years ago
Reply to  Carlos

Carlos, I’m in the same situation, waiting for 2 years after having owned a first generation Leaf in 2016 which was way to limited in range. I’m probably going for a 2016/2017 used Ioniq, it will give you similar range to the 40kWh Leaf, charge faster (70 vs 50 kW) and has CCS while the Leaf has Chademo whicht seems to me declining in Europe.

40kWh Leaf is also more expensive than Ioniq because it is just one year on the market.

Jonas Jovial
2 years ago

“European automakers finally start to get serious about electric cars.”…

You do have some funny jokes. Yes, you do…

2 years ago

I had a co-worker claiming that the batteries are too expensive, he claimed that a new battery pack for a Tesla costs around 70.000 Euros (I assume he means a Tesla Model S). So I googled the battery price and found an article where Tesla claimed that they would reach a price of 100 US dollars per 1 kWh by the end of last year on the cell level. For a 100 kWh battery pack that would mean 10.000 US dollars for the cells. That is not too bad and adding some extra money for the pack and we are still not near the 70.000 Euros.
Maybe Tesla can produce battery cells cheaper than other companies, but I have earlier concluded that the price difference between the 22 kWh Renault Zoe and the 41 kWh Renault Zoe suggested a cell price of about 140 Euro per 1 kWh.
If the price doesn’t seem to be the big problem and the supply isn’t a big problem as suggested by this article, why are we not seeing more EVs and why are they still so very expensive?

2 years ago
Reply to  Lars

Maybe it’s because they haven’t retooled their factories enough to achieve the economies of scale yet to really lower the prices, and maybe they’re also trying to build in the extra income they’re losing on the servicing end that they get from ICEs?

And maybe they can just charge more because there’s just that much more demand and people will pay.

2 years ago
Reply to  Marcel

I think it is the last reason you mention. They don’t want to sell EVs because they would rather sell ICEV. If they keep the price high and the numbers low they won’t sell too many and it won’t hurt their ICE business.

Counter-Strike Cat
2 years ago

The price for battery replacement has nothing to do with the production costs of the cells.

2 years ago

What is that suppose to mean? You have to pay the mechanic for the replacement work, but in order to replace the battery you need new cells.

Counter-Strike Cat
2 years ago

That’s likely showing capacity reached at the end of the year. The factory extension in Poland wasn’t ready until late 2018.

2 years ago

Thanks for the responses Pedro and Erik.
Pedro, regarding the wait, i’m still not sure, because i also wanted to get the incentive and if i let some months pass by i’ll likely loose it. I could wait until next year and hope the incentive will be available too, but firstly there’s no guarantee and secondly it’s a bit inconvenient to wait that long to be honest. But i appreciate your response, i’m going to think about it.

Erik, i agree, indeed ioniq is better in some aspects, but the Leaf is a bit better in others. For example, for me the lack of remote app in the ioniq is a big deal, unfortunately.

2 years ago

Yes, CHAdeMO was chosen even for the 62 kWh e+, which is fine in Japan, but ridiculous in Europe. There are no high power (150 kW+) CHAdeMO stations in Europe, and there might not be unless Nissan pays for it. It doesn’t matter with the current 40 kWh Leaf, since it can’t use the extra power anyway, but the e+ is expected to manage 100 kW. Europeans then will be charging at half speed just because it has the wrong port..!

Maybe Nissan will change course. It’s a minor change and they aren’t launching until September.

Regarding get it now or wait: unless you’re prepared to wait for a long time, make sure you’re paying close attention so it’s not lost in you if reservations are opened up somewhere. A lot of people are waiting just like you, and production is always very slow in the beginning (independent of the manufacturer not wanting to make enough to meet demand). So you can very easily end up having to wait six months or a year to actually get the car from the day you order it, unless you’re among the very first to make a reservation.

I reserved a Model 3 in March 2016 like many others. Boy have I gotten tired of waiting! My 2012 Leaf has lost a fifth of its capacity, and I crave the freedom to roam! Then I reserved a Hyundai Kona in July 2017, but unfortunately thousands had beat me to it. I signed the purchase contract in July 2018 — and have estimated delivery in Q2 this year. It’s far from certain they’ll manage that, either.

In hindsight, I wish I had ditched the Leaf back in 2017 and got an Ioniq. Then I could wait for the base Model 3 and a slew of other cars to arrive without feeling rushed. An Ioniq would provide me plentiful range in everyday driving, including in the winter, and be ok for occasional longer trips with a little planning.

I’m still kind of considering talking to my Hyundai dealer and maybe cancel the Kona and get an Ioniq instead. If I knew I’ll get the Kona in April or May I’d prefer to wait for that, but if I won’t get it until after summer I’d rather get an Ioniq *now* (used ones are available, not a great many, but with no waiting time and obviously a bit lower price) while I watch the market get much more competitive year by year.

Counter-Strike Cat
2 years ago
Reply to  Terawatt

There are plenty of 200 A CHaDEmo chargers getting installed in Europe now. 200 A Delta chargers are installed by Deutsche Telekom for their fast charging network in Germany, Fastned uses 150 kW ABB multistandard chargers.

2 years ago

“Electric car boom in Europe starts this year”

No. We will see an increase in sales this year, but the real boom is in 2020. Many EVs will be launched this year but the volume sales will begin from January 2020. Why? Because the new EU rules with lower g CO2 / km will be applied from 2020.

“I think that 50 kWh is a good average figure for an EV battery pack”

It should be a bit higher at 200 MJ (~55 kWh).

2 years ago

“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.”

If only that was so easy 🙂
To have a good alternative to Model 3 producers will have to create a lot of hype around the brand to match that of Tesla, and it’s quite a task. Efficiency alone won’t cut it, just ask Hyundai, with their more efficient IONIQ going unnoticed.

2 years ago
Reply to  Oleksiy

I don’t think the hype is necessary, Tesla made the hype, now people can see that EVs can be interesting and useful. As for Hyundai, there is still a long waiting list for their EVs including the Ioniq. I would like an efficient EV, that would both make driving cheaper and would mean fewer charging stops.

tom houlden
2 years ago

I wonder why am I seeing very little anywhere about the forthcoming self-solar-charging Sion from Sono Motors.

2 years ago

It’s interesting. I’m from Ukraine, we have some EV incentives here in the form of no VAT and zero import taxes etc., so people buy a lot of used cars from USA. IONIQ, Zoe and, since recently, Kia Soul EV and I-Pace are available for sale at “official” dealers though. IONIQ is freely available – just bring cash to the dealer and you could drive it home today. It doesn’t sell well at all though due to the steep price compared to other EV alternatives, but not due to lines. But again, I’m not aware of the situation with IONIQ at other markets.

Another point is efficiency. I doubt this is a major driver behind decision making once the EV market turns from niche to mass, it’s just not reasonable. E.g., I’ve owned my share of ICE cars, and I couldn’t recall a single one I chose to buy due to its superiority in efficiency. And that’s despite a more efficient ICE car vs. less efficient one could have saved me a lot more money (given how much money I spent on gas) compared to an efficient EV vs. a non-efficient one should such vehicles be available at the time.

To explain my point, I now drive BMW i3 BEV as a city commuter, and it saves a lot. It’s quite efficient, I’ve averaged 7.8 km/kWh since end of May and 16K km. My aggregate “fuel” cost per km is about USD 0.005 (compare it to USD 0.10-0.125 per km of my second ICE crossover). Would I switch it to a much less efficient I-Pace? In a second – I’m willing to pay USD 0.01 per km now doubt 🙂

The existing efficiency importance of EVs is driven by enthusiasts – these are the people who choose to buy EVs today yet – geeks – so they talk about efficiency. They seem to have no issues comparing I-Pace or E-tron etc. vs. IONIQ or Kona, and trashing the former ones due to lower efficiency. It’s not even funny – try to talk to an Audi or Jag owner and say that their ICE SUVs are less efficient that Kia’s smallish CUV. You’d get a look like you’re out of your mind and that’s it, most likely they’ll not even bother answering. But in the EV world we are very serious about efficiency, despite its monetary value is much lower compared to that in the ICE world.

2 years ago

Pedro, thank you for unpacking this, I did think that efficiency means efficiency in energy consumption per km.

It’s interesting that you compare Model 3 to much larger SUVs from a different segment though, and not to IONIQ, which is a lot closer to Model 3 both in size and in form factor. The latter, BTW, may catch up with Model 3 in terms of any efficiency meaning once it gets a 40+ kWh battery later this year. I bet it’s not going to turn into a best selling EV despite this fact.

I still think that hype and status are the major contributors, not the efficiency, even in the broader interpretation of yours. Note how any downsides of Model 3 are disregarded with ease or even considered to be advantages. I’m speaking of crappy build quality and fit and finish (I was underwhelmed when I had a chance to walk around and sit in one in person), not worthy of sub $10K cars really by legacy automakers, absence of heat pump and thus inferior winter performance, no physical buttons (e.g. this was a no go for me from the onset – I do need to adjust stuff when driving, and I don’t want to dig into an huge TV in the center for doing this), insane vampire drain (no such thing in my i3 at all), crazy door handles, etc.

As to the cheaper to build argument, let me check Tesla financials again :)))… Seriously, I think VW will have their models built significantly cheaper on a per car basis when taking all costs into account since they will be based on a common MEB platform – this is the major contributor to cost savings. Also, they are unlikely to confront any logistic or other types of nightmares when ramping up their production. Whether they are going to be profitable is another question. A lot will depend on the science behind batteries. Should there be no major breakthroughs (like solid state or sodium-ion batteries), we will face a very nasty surprise in some years with the exponential growth in the demand for batteries. All economy of scale potential will have been depleted by then by all manufacturers, but cobalt and lithium prices will skyrocket. I sincerely hope technology moves faster than with Li-ion, the batteries that have been 40 years in development.

To summarize, this efficiency thing is of interest only in a very tiny niche market – the one of EVs now. Once it turns to a mass market, no one will care. ICE cars by VW are much more efficient than Toyota’s in terms of fuel economy. Still Toyota does well in sales. They have other advantages that are important for non-VW buyers, it’s obvious.

And no, no one is comparing Jaguar to Hyundai among car owners despite Hyundai models are much more efficient, cheaper to build, fuel faster (have smaller tanks), may have more cargo and passengers space, etc. I understand that it’s weird for EV enthusiasts, but that’s true. And this truth will arrive into the EV world once it turns from niche do dominant.