Time is a relative thing, and your place in the world determines how you experience any moment. Today, here may be tomorrow—or even yesterday—somewhere else.
The timing of electric vehicle adoption is no different. The sector is growing quickly, but the timing of that growth changes by region, impacted by factors such as governmental regulation, availability of charging infrastructure, overall vehicle demand and consumer acceptance of EV technology.
"The timing might be different, the technology might be different, but all regions are growing extremely fast in the EV (space)," said Tina Wu, DuPont Mobility & Materials' global vice president of advanced solutions and Asia-Pacific regional leader.
All eyes on China
Globally, auto makers and suppliers are turning their eyes to China, a market where automotive demand—regardless of powertrain—is expected to grow.
"Total vehicle, China has got the growth right now," said Fred Jamieson, Henniges Automotive's global vice president of sales, marketing and program management. "It is outgrowing the rest of the emerging markets where you have got a higher level of growth from a smaller base. China is very important in terms of total vehicle, total market growth."
China also has an advantage in its management of the COVID-19 pandemic, having been the first country to experience the challenges of containing the virus. The country got a jump start on game-planning for a post-COVID-19 future, positioning it to make big transitions and push forward with manufacturing as well R&D.
"From my point of view, with its early recovery from COVID and strict governmental policies regarding new energy vehicles, I feel that China has the greatest potential to grow in the next year," said Rainer Kremmeicke, a key account manager within ContiTech's Divergent Mobility Group. "The market is far from being saturated."
IHS Markit, in an analysis published late last year, examined the expected growth for light vehicle sales in China. In 2019, the country saw the sale of nearly 25 million light vehicles. That dipped a bit to about 23 million last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Total light vehicle sales are expected to climb again this year, falling just short of the 25 million-unit mark, but should eclipse that figure in 2022, IHS Markit said. Sales should continue to grow steadily until 2027, when it is expected that country will reach 30 million light vehicles sold.
Couple that overall automotive demand with governmental regulations that are driving the adoption of EV technology, and the country is emerging as one of the global leaders for the auto industry.
IHS Markit in January said global EV sales would rise by 70 percent in 2021, building on the 2.5 million EVs sold in 2020.
Kevin Adler, editor for IHS Markit's climate and sustainability group, authored the analysis. In it, he noted that China (44 percent) and Europe (28 percent) will account for 72 percent of the global EV sales this year. North America and Japan, meanwhile, are expected to account for 16 percent and 11 percent of global EV sales, respectively.
By 2025, global EV sales are expected to reach 12.2 million, which Adler said indicates a CAGR of 52 percent.
In China, BEV production is expected to reach 4.8 million units by 2025, accounting for 17 percent of the overall market, according to Abby Chun Tu, an IHS Markit principal research analyst. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are expected to account for 6 percent of China's market share by then, reaching 1.6 million units.
Part of that growth could hinge on the region's acceptance of electric vehicles.
According to data released this year in the Specialty Equipment Market Association's "2021 Vehicle Landscape Report," Asia leads the world in its acceptance of the electrified drivetrain technology.
South Korea and Japan show the most support for alternative drivetrains, with 57 percent and 55 percent of drivers leaning toward EVs for their next vehicle. In China, 45 percent of drivers prefer alternative powertrains.
For perspective on how comfortable drivers in those countries are with EV technology, the SEMA report noted that 74 percent of U.S. auto buyers seek traditional ICE vehicles.