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China’s EV Growth Set To Explode in 2024

  • China dominates the global EV sector, with aggressive growth projections and a strategic focus on expanding domestic production.
  • The US and EU face challenges in EV adoption, with regulatory uncertainties and economic factors impacting consumer decisions.
  • PHEVs show resilience alongside BEVs, reflecting evolving consumer preferences and the role of transitional technologies in decarbonization efforts.
BYD

The electric vehicle (EV) market is on track for a watershed year in 2024 as emissions reduction targets clash with falling consumer spending amid enduring economic uncertainty. Rystad Energy research forecasts 17.5 million EV sales this year, an 18.5% annual increase. As a result, the share of new car sales that are either battery electric (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) will increase from 19.2% in 2023 to around 21.8% at the end of 2024.

China will play a significant role in the market's continued expansion thanks to sizeable growth in its domestic production. We expect about 11.5 million new EVs will be sold in the country this year, a 44% share of all new car sales.

China is dominant in the global EV sector, accounting for 69% of all new EV sales in December, and continued growth is on the cards. Last year saw a 37% annual growth in sales, with approximately 9 million new EVs sold and a market share of 34%. The country has also advanced its EV penetration targets, aiming for a 45% market share by 2027, an increase from the originally planned 40% by 2030. With local players continuing consolidation, this strategic move opens a critical window for non-Chinese automakers struggling to gain a foothold in its booming EV market.

Closing 2023 with 26.5 million passenger cars sold, China saw a 10.8% increase from 2022. December marked another milestone, with EVs achieving a record-breaking month of sales at 1.13 million units—a 16% surge from November and a 50% annual increase. BEVs accounted for 27.6% of car sales for the month and 40% of all sales.

Outside of China, the EV landscape looks notably different. In Europe, market penetration is expected to grow, albeit slower than observed in prior years, at 3.3 million units this year. The US EV market suffered a lackluster 2023, with uncertainty surrounding tax credits and interest rates complicating consumer decisions to switch to an electric vehicle.

Riding last year's momentum, Chinese automakers are aggressively expanding into emerging markets, overshadowing established players. This eastward shift is particularly evident in Europe, where a stagnant EV market finds hope in the arrival of budget-friendly Chinese brands. However, this influx also presents challenges: local automakers face mounting pressure to adapt, struggling with plant conversions and production delays. China's pivotal role in this dynamic becomes even more pronounced as a global supply chain leader. Meanwhile, in the West, the US presents a complex landscape. The Inflation Reduction Act's subsidies offer a potential boon, but strict rules on foreign entities ultimately dampen automotive spending, particularly in the EV segment. 

Abhishek Murali, Senior Energy Systems Analyst

Learn more with Rystad Energy’s Energy Transition Solution.

PHEVs show promise, but long-term viability in question

The number of passenger cars, or light vehicles, sold in 2023 increased by 10% from 2022. Growing economies and typically slower markets, such as Australia, India and Malaysia, drove this unexpected surge. This overall growth fueled an uptick in EV deliveries in 2023, with about 14.3 million EV sales globally, a 35% increase compared to 2022.

The recent sales figures for BEVs versus PHEVs are an interesting look at the market dynamics – BEV sales are growing consistently, but PHEVs remain resilient. This is especially evident in the US in the second of 2023, where consumer preference has shifted to PHEVs.

The rise in the sales of these battery-hybrid cars could underscore their role as a transitionary technology in phasing out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to meet decarbonization targets. However, the future of the market depends heavily on the same factors impacting the BEV market: technological advancements, infrastructure support and range considerations.

Looking specifically at activity in a manufacturing setting, Tesla celebrated a notable fourth quarter, achieving a record 484,500 EV deliveries, marking a solid recovery from a third-quarter slowdown. The growth was primarily driven by robust performances across all models, though an increase in Model 3 and Y sales has come on the back of price cuts for both models. The Model S, Model X and Cybertruck deliveries grew by nearly 50% year-on-year.  

However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has voiced concerns about sustaining this growth into 2024. Musk also emphasized the company's focus on constructing a factory in Mexico but acknowledged potential delays as the company prioritizes refining the Model 2 development in Austin, Texas, before expanding production south of the border.

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BYD, a major Chinese manufacturer, emerged as the largest EV automaker in 2023, surpassing Tesla in BEV deliveries, particularly during the fourth quarter. The brand sold more than 942,000 EVs in the final quarter of 2023 and a total of 3 million EVs annually.

While BYD fell short of its initial 4-million target, its performance remained within the forecast range of 2.75 million sales. To meet sales targets, BYD incentivized dealers with up to $93 per car sold, amounting to a significant expenditure of 1.5 billion yuan ($211 million). Looking ahead, BYD seems set to maintain its growth trajectory and is optimistic about reaching the 4-million target set for the upcoming year.

By Rystad Energy

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