From Audi to Volkswagen: How are big carmakers approaching the EV transition?

After Ford and Jaguar announced plans to go fully electric this week, edie looks at the commitments the world's biggest carmakers have made to electrify their vehicle portfolios.

Read on to find out how 16 of the world's biggest carmakers are approaching the EV transition. Images (clockwise from top left): Nissan, BMW, JLR, GM

Read on to find out how 16 of the world's biggest carmakers are approaching the EV transition. Images (clockwise from top left): Nissan, BMW, JLR, GM

To say that it has been a busy week for electric vehicle (EV) news would be an understatement.

On Monday (15 February), Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) announced a new business strategy headlined by a commitment to stop producing petrol and diesel vehicles under its Jaguar brand by 2025 and switch to electric-only models. Given that Jaguar only produces one pure-electric model at present and outsources production, the commitment marks a major shift for the firm.

New plans for Land Rover, meanwhile, will see the brand stop producing ICE vehicles for sale in the UK by 2030, in line with the Government’s ban on new petrol and diesel cars. Global production will then stop by 2036.

Then, on Wednesday (17 February), Ford announced plans to only sell pure electric passenger cars in Europe from 2030. It will stop selling pure petrol and pure diesel by 2026, then work to phase out hybrids.

The news from Ford came on the same day that The Climate Group provided the second annual progress update on its EV100 initiative. The report revealed that 101 businesses have joined the commitment and that this cohort has rolled out 169,000 EVs to date, with more than half having hit the road in 2020. But it also highlighted a number of challenges around business EV integration, including concerns around charging infrastructure and a lack of suitable models – particularly in the heavy goods vehicle space.  

With all of this in mind, edie looks at the commitments that some of the world’s biggest carmakers have made on transitioning their portfolios to EVs – from A to Z.

BMW

Summer 2020 saw BMW unveiling a new climate plan, including a commitment to cut emissions from vehicle use by one-third by the end of the decade.

To meet this target, BMW is aiming to have more than seven million EVs on roads by the end of the decade – two-thirds of them being pure-electric. It will launch five pure-electric vehicles by the end of 2021 and additional models in the coming years, resulting in a portfolio of 25 EV models by the end of 2023.

Daimler  

Back in 2018, Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler outlined plans to purchase more than £18bn worth of electric vehicle (EV) battery cells by 2030.

It is aiming to have 130 pure electric and hybrid vehicles on offer by the end of 2022 across its portfolio of brands. At least 10 of these models will be Mercedes-Benz; Daimler expects electrified models to account for 15-25% of the brand’s annual sales in 2025.

A fully electrified portfolio is not on the cards, though. A strategy statement last updated this week summarises that “combustion engines are a long way from being obsolete”.

Ferrari

Ferrari is launching a new hybrid, the SF90 Stradale, in late 2021, after debuting its first hybrid in 2013.

But plans for Ferrari’s first pure electric vehicle are yet to be confirmed. Former chief executive Sergio Marchionne teased plans shortly before his death and current boss Louis Camilleri has continued to do so.

In an exclusive interview with Jalopnik late last year, Camilleri said the brand would not commit to full electrification within his lifetime.

Ford

As mentioned in the introduction to this piece, Ford will only sell pure electric vehicles in Europe from 2030. Globally, it is expecting for pure EVs to account for two-thirds of sales by this point.

Ford has earmarked at least $22bn of investment, to be allocated through to 2025, to achieve this business model transition.

General Motors (GM)

GM made headlines last month with a commitment to become carbon neutral in operations and products by 2040. The business owns Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC and Wuling.

Emissions from products accounted for 75% of GM’s absolute carbon footprint in 2019. So, to meet the new long-term target, the firm is planning to offer will offer 30 all-electric models globally by 2030. It has been eyeing a fully electric portfolio since 2017.

GM has forecast that EVs will account for 40% of market entries in its largest market – the US – by the end of 2025.

Groupe Renault

As well as its namesake brand, Groupe Renault owns Dacia, Alpine, LADA and MOBILIZE, the latter of which is its mobility, energy and data services arm.

The Group as a whole has committed to carbon-neutrality in Europe by 2050, in line with the EU’s Green New Deal commitments. It claims it is the largest EV player in Europe in terms of sales, with more than one in four EVs sold across the continent coming from a Groupe Renault brand. Under its ‘Drive the Future’ strategic plan, the business will offer an electrified version of all models by 2022.

Groupe Renault is notably involved in collaboration agreements with Nissan and Mitsubishi motors. Both agreements have projects related to EVs.

Hyundai

Korean carmaker Hyundai, which owns Kia, offered just three EV models in 2019 and clocked up around 60,000 vehicle sales across these models. By 2025, it is planning to offer 16 pure electric and hybrid cars and to sell at least 1.1 million hybrids and 560,000 pure electric cars annually.

It will invest $6.7bn by 2030 to achieve this vision. By this point, it is hoping to have the capacity to manufacture 700,000 fuel cells in-house every year.

Honda

Honda has, perhaps, one of the most ambitious portfolio electrification plans in the industry globally. It is planning to only sell pure electric vehicles and hybrids in Europe from 2022 – an ambition that initially had a 2025 deadline.

On a global scale, Honda is aiming for EVs to account for one-third of its sales by 2030.

JLR

As mentioned in the introduction to this piece, JLR will only sell pure electric vehicles through its Jaguar brand from 2025. For the Land Rover brand, the date has been set for 2030 in the UK and 2036 in all other global markets.

Nissan

Japanese multinational Nissan also owns several brands in Asia, including Infiniti Motor Company and Nismo.

The company is aiming to launch eight new pure EVs by 2023 while fine-tuning its hybrid models and selling more of them. It expects to sell one million pure EVs and hybrids every year from 2024, with key markets being Japan, China and Europe. The proportion of sales accounted for by these vehicles in these markets is forecasted to be 60%, 23% and 50% respectively by this point.

Nissan’s plans for electrification are notably slower for the US than in other markets – possibly because climate legislation took steps back under President Trump, while the EU, China, Japan and UK forged on with new long-term targets. Nissan is only planning to offer two of its new EV models – the Leaf and Ariya – in the US at present.

Stellantis

Fiat Chrysler and Groupe PSA (Peugeot Citroen) signed a join-up agreement in January and said the aim of the merger is to “create a leader in sustainability mobility”. The new entity, called Stellantis, owns 18 brands and calls itself “a leader for a new era of mobility”.

Because Stellantis is only a few weeks old, there is not yet publicly available data on overarching portfolio electrification progress. However, the company offers a total of 29 hybrid and pure electric models at present and is planning to outline a roadmap to carbon neutrality in the coming months.

Both Fiat Chrysler and Groupe PSA had reportedly told the UK Government that switching to fully electric portfolios by 2030 would be challenging without additional support.

Suzuki

Suzuki does not yet offer any fully electric models and has not outlined a timeline for its plans to do so. Around one-fifth of the Japanese multinational’s annual sales are accounted for by hybrids. Building on this trend, it recently updated its hybrid Swift and Ignis models.

Tesla

Tesla is the largest publicly traded automotive company in the world. It goes without saying that it only produces pure electric vehicles. Co-founder Martin Eberhard argued in 2006 that hybrids are “no more electric than a 1942 Jeep” and has maintained that stance.

For all its work to avoid in-use emissions, however, Tesla has been criticised for its wider environmental disclosures. The company scored badly in the World Benchmarking Alliance’s most recent auto industry index and it has only been producing sustainability reports since 2019.

Toyota

In 2015, Toyota unveiled a series of ambitious new environmental targets with an overall aim to eliminate the use of gasoline cars and cut average carbon emissions from all of its vehicles and products by more than 90% by 2050.

However, its EV plans hit a new challenge in 2020. The business had been planning to showcase new electric taxis, minibuses and buses at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, but the event was postponed due to Covid-19 and there are still uncertainties as to whether it will go ahead this year.

Toyota’s subsidiaries include Lexus, Dihatsu and Subaru.

Volkswagen Group

Since the 2015 diesel emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen (VW) Group has been rethinking its portfolios. As well as its namesake, VW Group owns Audi, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Skoda.

VW itself is planning to manufacture one million electric cars by the end of 2023. It will then scale up production to at least 1.5 million electric cars annually from 2025. The brand expects at least 60% of sales in Europe, its biggest market, to be from pure EVs and hybrids by 2030.  

Audi’s business plans include a commitment to sell 20 and pure EV models and at least 10 hybrid models globally by 2025. Other VW Group brands have smaller EV portfolios and smaller expansion plans to match; Bugatti, for example, is planning to debut its first EV this year.

VW Group also owns Bentley, which has committed to stop selling petrol cars in 2026, as part of broader plans to become a carbon-neutral company by 2030 and a carbon-negative company thereafter. Aside from Bentley, no other VW Group brands have commitments to stop selling ICE vehicles.

Volvo

Volvo has not launched any new pure petrol or pure diesel car models since 2019. Its first pure electric model, the XC40 Recharge, is due to launch last year.

Volvo’s EV strategy is headlined by an ambition to get one million electrified cars on the road by 2025 and to ensure that pure EVs and hybrids collectively account for at least half of sales by that point.

Sarah George



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