Which Automakers Are Poised To Dominate The EV Market?

In the dynamic pursuit of shifting away from conventional internal combustion engine vehicles towards a future characterized by zero-tailpipe emissions, the established norms within the realm of light-duty vehicle (LDV) manufacturers are poised for a transformative overhaul.

Our recent publication, “The Global Automaker Rating 2022: Pioneering the Electric Vehicle Transition,” delves deep into the LDV industry landscape, unearthing noteworthy insights regarding the advancement of automakers—a revelation that might defy conventional expectations. Our analysis centers on the world’s 20 most prominent auto manufacturers in terms of LDV sales, and our evaluation rests on three fundamental pillars: ascendance in the market, technological prowess, and forward-looking strategic acumen.

Under the frunk: Which automakers are surprising in high stakes race to EV?

An automaker you might not know well captured second place

Despite entering the automotive market relatively recently, in 1995, BYD rapidly emerged as a prominent contender, securing the second position in the rankings, closely trailing Tesla.

After introducing its inaugural electric vehicle (EV), the BYD e6, in 2009, this Chinese-based automaker experienced a substantial breakthrough in March 2022 by committing exclusively to the production of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Over the entirety of 2022, the company witnessed a remarkable surge of 26 percentage points in the proportion of EVs within its total LDV sales, ultimately reaching an impressive 99% share.

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It’s worth noting that while BYD stands out as the first traditional automaker to transition entirely to EV sales, approximately half of the EVs it retailed in 2022 were PHEVs, a hybrid type that incorporates an internal combustion engine, potentially emitting tailpipe pollutants when consuming fossil fuels. Hence, it’s evident that while BYD has made substantial progress, a complete shift to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) at the tailpipe has not been fully realized as of yet.

Neither GM nor Ford was the top US-headquartered automaker

Stellantis, the parent company encompassing Chrysler and often grouped with American giants GM and Ford, secured a competitive advantage, edging past Ford and GM in the rankings.

Although Stellantis exhibited a technology performance that fell somewhat below the mean, it notably excelled in its executive compensation strategy. Among the 18 automakers on the roster that have not yet transitioned entirely to 100% EV production, a mere five have incorporated their progress in the electric vehicle domain into their executive compensation framework. Stellantis emerges as a standout, boasting the highest proportion of compensation that is directly or indirectly linked to the advancement of EV technology. This includes a transformation incentive spanning from 2021 to 2025, equating to approximately 22% of the Stellantis CEO’s annual remuneration. The distribution of this incentive is contingent on a series of milestones closely aligned with EVs and other critical technological targets such as autonomous vehicle technology.

GM was rated slightly higher than Ford

Although long-time rivals GM and Ford exhibited similar performance in the ZEV transition, GM managed to inch past Ford, largely thanks to a more robust strategic vision.

GM has integrated an EV component in its executive compensation since 2022 and it now accounts for approximately 11% of the total; most of the overall score difference between the two giants is attributable to this.

On other metrics, the automakers showed similar performance. Both have a low EV share of sales and a limited variety of ZEV models. Both received an overall score below 50 and thus have ample room for improvement, including in areas such as vehicle performance, upstream decarbonization using renewable energy in manufacturing, and battery recycling.

SAIC has China’s strongest-selling EV

SAIC, a pivotal player in China’s automotive landscape, commands the distinction of possessing the nation’s highest-selling EV, the Wuling Hongguang. Nonetheless, its rating placed it behind two fellow Chinese automakers.

SAIC displayed noteworthy strengths in specific metrics; boasting the third most substantial Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) market share, accounting for 30%, trailing only Tesla and BYD. Impressively, SAIC extended ZEV offerings across all eight categories of Light-Duty Vehicles (LDVs), showcasing a robust commitment to ZEV advancements.

Yet, its aggregate score of 44 unveils a certain lag in vehicle performance, primarily attributed to its strategic emphasis on crafting more affordable Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) tailored to urban commuters. While these economically appealing models have garnered popularity, they frequently exhibit limitations in terms of driving range and rapid charging capabilities, leading to their relatively subdued overall performance.

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Makers of esteemed BEV models lagged

Esteemed for their Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) offerings, the IONIQ from Hyundai-Kia and the Leaf from Nissan faced challenges in our assessment, garnering overall scores of merely 38 and 27, respectively. Hyundai-Kia’s rating positioned it in the lower stratum of the “transitioner” category, while Nissan found itself categorized as a “laggard.”

Both automakers faltered in terms of market dominance, marked by meager Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) sales shares and a limited array of ZEV selections. Turning to ZEV performance, Hyundai-Kia incurred a subpar evaluation for energy efficiency, whereas Nissan exhibited deficiencies across multiple facets, including energy consumption, driving range, and charging speed—implying a need for enhancement to propel future improvements.

Both companies displayed weak utilization of renewable energy in their manufacturing processes, while also exhibiting comparatively modest strategic foresight compared to counterparts headquartered in Europe and the U.S. Notably, their global EV targets for 2030—36% for Hyundai, 30% for Kia, and 50% for Nissan—stood at the lower end of the spectrum. Moreover, their corresponding investment commitments towards these objectives were relatively restrained.

Toyota was among the laggards

Toyota, the preeminent figure in the automotive realm, found itself categorized as a “laggard,” a ranking notably hindered by its discernible deficit in strategic vision.

In the context of our 2022 assessment—which encompassed developments up until the year’s conclusion—Toyota’s stature underwent a shift in April 2023. The company seized headlines by declaring its ambition to vend 1.5 million Electric Vehicles (EVs) annually by 2026. This stride garnered acknowledgment from the White House. However, a more intricate inspection unveils that this proclamation serves as an interim objective, propelling Toyota toward its pre-existing aspiration of achieving 3.5 million Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) sales per annum by 2030.

The projected realization of this goal, translating to a Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) market share of around 32% by 2030, positioned Toyota in the bottom echelon within the ZEV target metric.

Toyota’s performance in technology was equally underwhelming. Despite pioneering and leading the landscape of hybrid vehicle technology through its esteemed Prius model—subsequently introducing a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) variant—the company’s ZEV deployment remained sluggish. This was partially attributed to an absence of an ambitious strategy and comparatively limited investment in the realm of Zero-Emission Vehicles.

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It is evident that Toyota, despite its past accomplishments, encountered challenges and scrutiny within the evolving landscape of electric mobility.

Only India-headquartered manufacturer on the list was among the laggards

Tata Motors, commanding a dominant 80% share within India’s Electric Vehicle (EV) market, surprisingly secured an overall score of 27, positioning it within the “laggard” category.

Although subsidiaries Jaguar and Land Rover, under the Tata Motors umbrella, have laid out ambitious ZEV goals—envisioning a complete transition by 2025 and 2035, respectively—the primary Tata brand has established a comparably modest ZEV share target of 30% by 2030.

While Tata Motors’ performance is commendable in certain aspects, there remains room for improvement. Its ZEV sales share is currently at 6%, and the scope of ZEV models offered lacks diversity. Beyond SUVs, the automaker’s ZEV offerings are confined to the subcompact car class.

As one of India’s leading automotive giants, Tata Motors possesses the capacity to take a more proactive role in spearheading the transition toward electrification. This proactive stance could propel the company to secure higher ratings in subsequent assessments. Achieving this would involve setting ambitious ZEV targets, expanding the portfolio to encompass a broader array of models, and increasing investments aimed at augmenting vehicle performance.

There is considerable opportunity for industry-wide improvement

Among the analyzed cohort of 20 automakers, a substantial 15 recorded scores below 50, underscoring a significant opportunity for pervasive industry improvement. This highlights the notion that, in the trajectory towards an electrified future, excelling in a singular aspect while lagging in others proves inadequate.

The comprehensive analysis encompassed 10 pivotal metrics, each offering invaluable insights into varied facets of leadership during this transformation. As data quality progresses, forthcoming iterations of The Global Automaker Rating will meticulously refine these metrics and meticulously track the fulfillment of automaker commitments.

This ongoing refinement process will empower consumers, investors, and manufacturers with timely, perceptive observations. This process will also foster a deeper comprehension of which automakers are steering the vanguard and the fundamental rationales propelling their advancement.

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  • Suraj

    Suraj is an avid automotive enthusiast with extensive hands-on experience working on vehicles coupled with diligent industry research. He leverages his deep passion and knowledge to provide Wheelwale.com readers with practical automotive advice, latest news, in-depth reviews and perspectives on new models.

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