VW, Mercedes and BMW are coming under pressure. Because the cards in the industry are being reshuffled. This is becoming increasingly clear.
The vehicles from the American Tesla group have been among the most popular and best-selling electric cars in Switzerland for years. Just like in many other countries. The established car companies from Europe, on the other hand, have fallen behind. Aykan Gökbulut specializes in the car market at the consulting firm Boston Consulting Group and recently co-authored a study on the development of electric cars.
Regarding the current situation, he says: “The advantage is that it is just getting started.” 60 to 70 million new cars are sold worldwide every year – so far there have been comparatively few electric cars. However, that is currently changing.
Legend: Newcomers are making life difficult for the established car companies from Europe. On the one hand there is Tesla, the electric pioneer from California. But Chinese car companies are increasingly putting pressure on traditional brands. Keystone/AP/Mike Stewart
Tesla has already cut off a large chunk of this rapidly growing market. In China, on the other hand, there are also Chinese brands, especially the BYD group. And these two – BYD and Tesla – now dominate the global electric car market: “50 percent of battery-powered vehicles are sold in China and BYD, as the largest manufacturer, is the leader in the Chinese market,” explains Gökbulut.
This has to do with the fact that the authorities in China have been promoting electric cars and battery technology for years. That’s why Chinese companies are often ahead today. In addition to BYD, there are other up-and-coming car companies. And: They gained a foothold in Europe very quickly. In Norway and Sweden, for example, they are already leaving the electric models from Mercedes and Audi behind. Because they offer what the German competition in particular lacks: small, inexpensive and good quality electric cars.
Legend: Chinese car manufacturers are also gaining ground in Europe. The traditional brands here have to find answers. Keystone/DPA/Matthias Balk
Gökbulut assumes that Chinese car companies will quickly gain additional market shares in Europe. A few years ago, Tesla had a market share of over 30 percent in Europe. Now the Chinese manufacturers and Tesla would each level off by 15 to 20 percent. That in turn means: the traditional car manufacturers have to share the rest – around 60 percent of the market.
German car manufacturers in a quandary
What this means in concrete terms can already be seen in China. The established corporations are losing ground there. German car companies in particular simply have the wrong model range. Cars with combustion engines are selling increasingly poorly. At the same time, their electric cars are too big and too expensive for the Chinese market.
Volkswagen therefore has to realign itself and is joining forces with Chinese car companies, as VW boss Oliver Blume recently explained at a presentation of his company. “In China, for China,” is how he outlined VW’s strategy. When it comes to research for self-driving cars or battery development, VW will work together with local car companies – even more than before.
Legend: The Volkswagen Group wants to focus specifically on the Chinese market in the future. Image: Oliver Blume at the presentation of an electric SUV from Audi, which belongs to the VW Group. Keystone/EPA/Roland Witteck
In short: It’s about producing competitive, inexpensive and digital electric cars. Volkswagen, as the largest car company in the world, is confident that it will still be able to catch up. Other European providers, however, have to hurry up because they have missed the development for years. Because the newcomers are not only technologically ahead, but they are also already profitable.