Collaboration critical to the success of electric vehicle industry
Montreal, 15 September 2010 — Collaboration is critical if the global electric vehicles industry is to fulfill its potential, according to participants of Ernst & Young’s ‘Ignition Sessions’ – a global series of executive roundtables attended by key stakeholders from across the electric vehicle value chain.
Gil Forer, Ernst & Young Global Cleantech leader says: “After several decades of stops and starts, the electric vehicle industry is poised to fulfill its promise. To do so, forging creative partnerships and business models will be critical for sustainable, long-term success. Stakeholders will need to embrace new business models and look for solutions beyond borders, in order to build critical mass and leverage this significant opportunity as we strive to achieve a more resource efficient and low carbon economy.”
Due to major strides by battery makers, big stimulus money for cleantech innovation, car makers shifting focus and governments starting to set standards, as well as increased consumer demand, the pace of change has increased significantly recently. Key milestones in the second half of 2010 include the forthcoming introduction of the mass market Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf electric vehicles (EVs) and China’s completion of construction of its largest EV charging station. The momentum is expected to continue with over a dozen battery electric vehicles slated to arrive between 2010 and 2013 from incumbent automakers such as Ford, Mitsubishi and Renault and new entrants including Tesla, BYD and Coda Automotive.
Mike Hanley, Ernst & Young Global Automotive Leader, comments: ”The automotive industry is poised for the evolution to increasingly electrified powertrain technologies; to facilitate this transition the traditional automotive industry, new automotive market entrants, utilities, regulators and government agencies must collaborate effectively to take advantage of the opportunities and to make the entire consumer experience seamless.”
Market drivers vary regionally. In Europe, take-up triggers include EV availability, pricing, convenience, safety and sustainability; commercial fleets are likely to be the first adopters. In the US the economics and availability of EVs are key drivers but early-adopting consumers are likely to play a key role. In China, by contrast, the primary driving force is the government’s desire to reduce oil consumption and curtail pollution.
Auto manufacturers, parts makers, utilities and governments are taking major steps to capitalize on and facilitate the EV opportunity. Those companies with realistic plans and strong partnerships will benefit most. There is a need to make a commitment, internally and externally – stakeholders must prepare systems, infrastructure and customers for an EV future. For 30 years, automakers have tested fossil fuel substitutes, including hydrogen, batteries and ethanol. Now, the industry is putting a wheel firmly on the track towards a more diversified powertrain future, with electric vehicles leading the way.
About the Ignition Sessions
For the fifth year, Ernst & Young hosted a global series of executive roundtables that convene key stakeholders to discuss important cleantech issues. This year’s sessions focused on electric vehicles (EVs) because the transformational change under way in this industry cuts across many sectors and has profound implications for automakers, utility companies, battery developers, smart grid operators and renewable energy suppliers.
Each meeting brought together the full range of stakeholders, including innovators, corporations, investors, government, utilities and NGOs.
The sessions, held in Munich, Shanghai and Silicon Valley, were co-hosted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and supported by the Climate Group and Innosight. The US session was also supported by the Electrification Coalition and Silicon Valley Bank.
The road ahead: ten steps forward
Ernst & Young analyzed the sessions and identified ten steps necessary to accelerate broad EV adoption:
- Make a commitment, internally and externally – Stakeholders must prepare systems, infrastructure and customers for an EV future.
- Avoid showstoppers – Automakers, utilities and aggregators must manage risks conservatively and execute smoothly to retain credibility. Rollouts must work and customer needs must be met seamlessly and rapidly to reap value.
- Take the industry perspective – Stakeholders must coordinate integration across the value chain, aligning interests, messaging and output to ensure successful rollouts, service provision and deployment.
- Government engagement – Governments should set standards to reduce technology risk and to speed development; fund R&D to accelerate breakthroughs; sponsor industry integration; set policies that create demand; and establish price signals that encourage consumer adoption.
- Campaign for standards – Governments, international standards organizations and businesses must work together to create standards that form a platform for innovation, encourage economies of scale and increase the comfort level among stakeholders.
- Step-change in battery performance – Though great strides have been made in recent years, particularly on the safety, pricing and performance front, much remains to be done.
- Focus on the entire ownership experience – Viewing the value proposition from the customer’s perspective will be critical to attracting and retaining EV buyers.
- Identify and cultivate first movers – EV stakeholders should look to first movers, such as business and government fleets and affluent consumer early adopters for lessons on how to best meet the needs of a much larger market in coming years.
- Embrace new business models – The transition to an electric transportation system demands a complete redesign of how vehicles are built, serviced and sold. Those in the value chain need to look for solutions beyond borders.
- Collaborate – Government, industry, academia and new entrants need to collaborate and forge alliances across functional boundaries and international borders to ensure success.
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