EV market is much more than passenger cars - and it's booming

December 06, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Despite all scepticism, the number of electric vehicles on Europe's roads is rising. Just these days, the German administration published the current figures: 5.606 electric vehicles are registered in Germany. Not a really impressing figure, but it grows at a steady pace of 16% which is at least something. The global market for electromobility however is poised to literally explode: From its current value of $69 billion to $334 billion within ten years, believes market researcher IDTechEx.

The strong growth and the huge market volume the predicted however reveals that electromobility is far from being a topic just for the makers of passenger cars. Quite the contrary, the biggest junk of the market is occupied by industrial and offroad electric mobility, military vehicles and electric buses. One of the reason this segment is so huge (in terms of money, not in terms of units): In these market segments the price pressure is much lower than in the passenger car market (hybrid as well as battery-electric). Instead, for buyers in these segments, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and performance are primary buying criteria.

According to the IDTechEx experts, the markets for military, industrial and commercial vehicles are evenly split between on-road and off-road types. The top ten list of vendors to these segments is populated by little known names such as Kion Industries and Jungheinrich - companies well known among fork lift buyers, but not so popular in the general public. Nevertheless, in this list we also find Toyota, and according to IDTechEx, the Japanese company dwarfs its next nine competitors together in terms of EV sales. Not only for its dominating share in the hybrid car market, but even more so for its huge sales fork lifts (actually, it is the global market leader in this segment) and buses with electric powertrain. With this broad market position and design experience, Toyota can cross-fertilise technologies and continue to widen its portfolio. "Companies entering the top ten over the coming decade will be characterised through a broad approach and / or backing the next winners such as Yutong in the Chinese e-bus market", said IDTechEx chairman Peter Harrop. This market is important: China will buy more than 80% of the world's electric buses.

In terms of electronics, the IDTechEx report ("Electric Vehicles, Forecasts, Trends and Opportunities 2014-2024") also provides insights to car designers. For instance, the market watchers predict