Asian Nations Near Front of EV Curve


Global electric vehicle sales are growing rapidly from a small base but are concentrated to date in a handful of countries, including China, Japan and South Korea, according to a new report from LubesnGreases about EVs and their impact on lube markets.

Based on current sales patterns and the uneven pace of investment in battery charging networks, LubesnGreases Perspective on Electric Vehicles finds that car populations within some countries could largely shift to EVs while at the same time other markets continue to be dominated by models powered only by internal combustion engines – at least for the next few decades.

Launched last week, Perspective on Electric Vehicles is a paid-subscription product with two components – an annual report that comprehensively analyzes EVs and their impacts on lubricants supplemented by quarterly reports with news about EVs and the response of the lubricant industry.

As noted in the inaugural 2019 Annual Report, the vast majority of global sales of purely battery-powered cars and hybrids have so far occurred in a dozen countries including China, Japan and South Korea, along with parts of Scandinavia, a few other European nations and the United States. China has the most EVs, followed by the United States, while Norway has the highest concentration of electrified vehicles.

China accounted for half of the worlds 1.2 million sales of EVs in 2017, triple the number of sales in the U.S., and nearly maintained that share with sales of 83,672 in the first quarter of 2018. Japan registered 10,732 EVs during that quarter, to rank third, while South Korea recorded sales of 3,581, good for ninth place.

There is also an urban-rural divide for EVs, as sales are concentrated in cities. Most EV sales in China have been in a handful of large cities.

Unsurprisingly, countries leading in EV sales have also made the most investment in networks of EV battery charging stations. China has by far the most extensive network, with approximately 213,000 public charging points, compared to 54,146 in the U.S., 38,670 in South Korea and 27,250 in Japan. Countries with the leading levels of EV sales have offered significant incentives to encourage them, and the annual report compares the various policy approaches they have taken.

The rapid pace of growth in EV sales has concerns within the lubricants industry, largely due to the fact that cars running only on battery power do not contain engine oil. As the annual report notes, forecasts of future EV penetration vary a lot, but several analyses have predicted that EVs will have a moderating impact on passenger car motor oil sales volumes and that global PCMO volumes will continue rising for a few decades, though at a slower pace than they would were it not for EVs.

The report also discusses performance demands for lubricants used in EVs and concludes that electrification will create new demands for transmission fluids and greases, though the specific needs will vary depending on the particulars of vehicle design.

Subscriptions to LubesnGreases Perspective on Electric Vehicles are $2,500. Information is available at this link.

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