Given their lower energy density requirements compared to shipping, aviation and rail, road vehicles are the first segment to be electrified with current technologies. Light-duty vehicles and buses, which have more predictable routes (compared with medium-duty/heavy-duty commercial vehicles), are likely to benefit from the establishment of charging stations, as well as government subsidies and public transport electrification targets. As technology evolves, the expectation is that other transportation sectors will, in time, begin to adopt electrification more broadly.
The other important facet of the story is the heavy use of new technologies in both EVs and other vehicles, including ADAS and increased connectivity, which should deliver greater value to the user. This higher content value within a vehicle necessitates supply-chain investments (e.g., semiconductors and batteries) and opens new addressable markets — not unlike what we saw with the development of the smartphone ecosystem. We think it is this ecosystem that potentially provides the most attractive investment opportunities. With these changes, legacy OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) will see greater competition from new entrants.
What will fuel the theme?
We expect this transportation revolution to continue accelerating, with the aid of four main catalysts:
Policy — As a growing number of countries commit to net-zero emissions, many are establishing aggressive targets for EVs. The European Union (EU) is aiming to have 30 million zero-emission cars on the road by 2030 versus 1.4 million in 2020. The US has set a goal of pushing EVs to 50% of new car sales by 2030, with the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act providing strong incentives. And China set a “new energy vehicle” (NEV) target of 20% of new car sales by 2025 versus 6% in 2020 — although we would note that penetration is already estimated to be significantly higher than that, running at close to 30%. Some countries, including Canada, France and the UK among others, have also set dates for the ban of new ICE passenger vehicles sales, generally between 2030 and 2040.
Performance — A growing number of consumers recognise that EVs, with their lower centre of gravity and faster acceleration, simply perform better than ICE vehicles. Consumers will also value improvements in technological performance, such as larger displays that offer better connectivity, navigation features and entertainment. As technologies mature, regulatory requirements to increase safety could help boost the adoption of ADAS — such as automatic emergency braking, which has been included in safety assessment programs for new cars in Japan and Europe since 2014. These technologies will impact ICE vehicles, not just EVs.
Pricing — Over time, drivers of ICE vehicles will face higher costs driven by tighter emission standards, while EV drivers will see costs decline with growing scale and technological advancements — and this is before taking any government subsidies into account. While there will be variations by country, EVs are generally expected to approach cost parity with ICE vehicles by 2025 and even earlier in some markets. This metric has limitations, however, and we think a more valuable tool for comparing the two vehicle types is the total cost of ownership (TCO). This incorporates the price of the vehicle but also the cost of maintenance, fuel and other factors. On the basis of TCO, EVs have parity already at higher price points. This also means that residual values should be stronger for EVs than for their ICE vehicle peers.
A commonly cited factor related to EV adoption — and cost — is driving range, which has been steadily rising over time. According to the International Energy Agency, the weighted average range for a new electric car was about 350 km in 2021, up from 200 km in 2015.1 Much of this improvement is attributable to advances in battery technology, which have also driven down the upfront costs of batteries. Since 2010, we have seen dramatic declines in battery costs, which (despite a slight estimated increase in 2022 due to higher raw material costs) appear to be on track to hit US$100 per kilowatt hour in the next few years — the level at which battery EVs are generally considered competitive with ICE vehicles (Figure 2).