The electrification of vehicles is shaking up export and import flows | New
These changes have a number of implications. Some ports and storage facilities will be better prepared with recharging infrastructure. Other ports are considering a change in the ratio of vehicle imports to exports. On the roads, carriers of finished vehicles must take into account the higher average weight of electric vehicles.
Hybrids and complete electric vehicles still represent a minor share of global vehicle trade, but their share is growing rapidly, as the new report shows from Automotive from Ultima, the business intelligence arm of Automotive Logistics.
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At the macro level, Europe is expected to experience a much larger influx of Chinese-made cars than before. Volvo, Polestar and BMW are already building a number of vehicles for the European market in China and once the global aspirations of Chinese OEMs start to gain momentum, this flow will only increase. MG has already got a good foot in the door with its value-priced electric vehicle offers.
Manufacturing majors A trend in recent years is that some small manufacturing countries have become major exporters of electric vehicles. Belgium, for example, was the second largest exporter of electric vehicles in 2019 by value, mainly thanks to the production and export of the Audi e-tron SUV. Volvo Cars’ recent launch of the XC40 Recharge EV gives it new impetus for years to come. Sweden, meanwhile, is the world’s third largest exporter of plug-in hybrids thanks to the wide range offered by Volvo.
The United States is normally more focused on production for its home market because the cars it makes are not suitable for the European market. However, in 2019 it was the world’s largest exporter of pure electric vehicles and third for combined electric and hybrid vehicles, thanks in large part to Tesla. As Tesla continues to ramp up production, it is also expanding its global presence significantly, having already started production in China and now looking to start production in Germany.
Germany was in second place with decent production of electric vehicles, but also supported by the popularity of the many plug-in hybrid models of German premium brands.
A similar but magnified trend was visible for Japan, which was the leading exporter of electric and hybrid vehicles, despite a very low number of pure electric vehicles leaving the country.
This was the result of the many Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi full hybrids made in Japan. Hybrid giant Toyota has hesitated to switch to electric vehicles and was vindicated in this strategy in 2020 because it hit the EU fleet CO2 cap with relative ease. Meanwhile, Nissan’s popular Leaf EV has always been built locally, in Sunderland for Europe, Tennessee for North America, and Japan just for the Asian market. That could change in the years to come, as Toyota begins to take electric vehicles more seriously, Nissan’s next mainstream SUV, the Ariya, will be built in Japan.
According to the report, the export of electric vehicles may not be done in as large a volume as for vehicles with internal combustion engine (ice). Logistics issues and the high cost of production and components will likely drive more OEMs to localize electric vehicle production. It’s also likely that as battery factories and capacity increase, OEMs will be producing EVs under a highly regional strategy, so ice age export champions may have to give way to new ones. regions when electric vehicles become dominant.
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