“Compared to previous years’ results, the findings this year tell us that auto experts have no clear idea of the direction the industry is heading,” says Andres Root, Partner and Head of Transport & Logistics Sector in KPMG Baltics OÜ “One thing is certain, electromobility is the most critical trend for the industry—how and when fully-electric cars will be a reality is dependent on a variety of complex and interrelated factors.”
Despite the fact that 76 percent globally said that fuel efficiency is still the most important factor affecting consumer-buying decisions, followed this year by environmental friendliness (65 percent), two-thirds don’t expect electric vehicles to exceed 15 percent of annual global sales within the next 15 years. But that does not seem to be the case in China, Japan as well as other high-growth markets where electromobility is expected to take hold sooner, according to the survey findings.
Respondents in Asia, China and Japan in particular, predict a higher penetration of fully electric vehicles than the global average by 2025; well over 50 percent of respondents from China expect that upwards of 11 to 25 percent (or 4 to 9 million vehicles) will be new car registrations for e-cars, while 46 percent of respondents from Japan predict that e-car registrations will exceed 25 percent. That is in contrast to the US, where nearly 50 percent believe new e-car registrations will account for only 6 to 10 percent by 2025.
Chief among the issues manufacturers and suppliers seem uncertain about is which fuel technology will emerge as the optimal and predominant method to power the electric car by 2025.
Globally, hybrid vehicles are expected to lead the market and attract the most investment in the interim with full hybrids and plug-in versions expected to be the favored technologies, and fuel-cell vehicles coming in third. This year’s survey found that respondents see an improvement in battery and fuel cell technologies, and there are signs that fuel cells may be viewed as the preferred option; nevertheless, uncertainty still lingers.
Interestingly, nearly two-thirds of respondents globally said that optimization of the internal combustion engine (ICE) currently offers greater efficiency and the most potential for carbon emission reduction than the current electromobility technologies over the next 5 years.
As with KPMG’s 2010 global auto survey, this year’s survey shows that overcapacity and excess production remain critical issues, with over half of respondents expecting China to be the most overbuilt by 2016. Yet, the survey’s findings reveal that still no real solutions have been identified and nearly one fifth of respondents do not see overcapacity as a serious threat in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) markets despite available industry data that indicates that unutilized capacity is a real threat in the region and is rapidly increasing.
Urban mobility is a rapidly emerging issue especially in the US and Japan where over 60 percent of respondents believe urban planning will influence vehicle design and usage. In Germany, surprisingly, only 38 percent hold that view.
The study shows that the potential urban customer base for both BRIC and triad markets will range between 6 and 15 percent–or approximately 110 to 230 million customers–in the next 15 years. Brazil is expected be a leading market for mobility services with 42 percent of respondents predicting more than 25 percent of the country’s urban inhabitants will use those services by 2026; overall, China has the greatest potential to lead the market for mobility services with an expected 90 million potential customers.
The KPMG Global Automotive Executive Survey 2012: Managing growth while navigating uncharted routes (PDF 1.33 MB), is based on a survey of 200 automotive executives, over half of whom are business unit heads or higher. A total of 47.5 percent of the executives are based across Europe, Middle East and Africa, 31 percent in the Asia-Pacific region and 21.5 percent in the Americas. Ninety-seven point five percent of the participants represent companies with annual revenues greater than USD100 million and more than a fifth work for firms with revenues greater than USD10 billion. The respondent interviews, which were held by phone, took place in August, September and October 2011.
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