There is a battle going on to take leading positions in e-mobility. The battle is being fought at many levels (OEMs, suppliers, operators, etc.), which may be considered healthy and pro-consumer in a market economy system. However, e-mobility has also become geopolitics. Different nations are competing in technological and industrial development, as well as in access to raw materials, which may be at least partly fostered by strong domestic demand for electrified vehicles. It may therefore be useful to understand how different nations are positioned in e-mobility. The consultancy Roland Berger has spent ten years analysing the e-mobility developments of the seven leading automotive nations: Germany, France, Italy, the US, Japan, China and South Korea. Recently, Roland Berger released the latest edition of the “E-mobility Index 2021” , which is also the main source for this article.
A debatable methodology
Assessing the competitiveness of different countries in e-mobility can be done in many different ways with different results. It is important to know what an assessment actually measures. Roland Berger applies a one- to five-point scale in three categories: technology, industry and market. The scores are then combined into an index and different countries can be compared against each other . Below is a brief description of the three categories.
Technology: the current level of technology of plug-in vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs) produced by the OEMs of individual nations. The technological level is mainly assessed by the ratio between range and battery capacity (energy efficiency), as well as the ability to accept faster charging. RB does not include government-sponsored R&D in e-mobility, as they believe that the role of government has shifted more towards market promotion activities and deployment of charging infrastructure.
Industry: Incremental value-added production of vehicles, systems and components (i.e. battery production) in the e-mobility field within the country’s borders. In its scoring, RB values vehicle production slightly higher than battery production .
Market: market shares of electric vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs) in the domestic vehicle market for the period Jan 2020 – Dec 2020.
A number of methodological questions remain unanswered from the report: based on which levels are the scores set (one to five)? The automotive industry is global, OEMs have development and production spread out. For example, does Tesla’s Model 3 production affect both the US and China scores?
China maintains its lead as the world’s leading e-mobility nation
According to Roland Berger, China is the leading nation in e-mobility for 2021, the same position as last year . China is ranked second in technology, first in industry and third in market. Second place is taken by Germany, followed by France. Fourth to seventh place goes in descending order to the US, South Korea, Italy and Japan. Below are the scores for each country in the three categories .
A number of interesting trends are given in the report. Large increases in sales of plug-in vehicles in Germany, Italy and France are pushing them up the list. Japan is in a downward trend in all categories, however, this is most noticeable in domestic sales. While all other countries increased their share of plug-in cars, Japan’s fell by 19% in 2020, compared to Italy where the share increased by 376% .
China is on its way to achieving a dominant industrial position in e-mobility. According to Roland Berger’s forecast, between 2018 and 2023 China will have cumulatively produced 13 million plug-in vehicles. Second place Germany is predicted to reach around 4.4 million plug-in vehicles . A similar trend can be seen in the expansion of battery production. China’s cumulative capacity in battery production is projected to reach 3,139 GWh between 2018 and 2023, followed by the US (368 GWh), South Korea (186 GWh), Japan (152 GWh) and Germany (80 GWh). Neither France nor Italy are expected to have any domestic battery production until 2023 .
Leaseplan has compared 22 European countries
In contrast to Roland Berger, vehicle leasing company Leaseplan’s report “EV Readiness Index 2021” lists 22 European countries’ e-mobility markets . The aim of the index is to identify how ready different countries are for a near transition to electrification. The index is based on the following parameters:
Maturity in sales of plug-in cars: number of plug-in cars per capita, share of plug-in cars in new sales and share of plug-in cars in LeasePlan’s sales.
Maturity of charging infrastructure: number of public charging points per capita, number of public charging points relative to the number of rechargeable cars and penetration of fast chargers (DC) per 100 km of motorway.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): calculation includes subsidies, taxes, energy prices and leasing cost per month.
The five leading countries according to the report are: (1) Norway, (2) the Netherlands, (3) the UK, (4) Luxembourg and (5) Sweden. The lowest maturity can be seen in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Poland and Spain.
Leaseplan identifies charging infrastructure as the weakest link in all the countries surveyed. But it also notes that growth is strong, with the number of public charging stations in Europe increasing by 43% in 2020, to a total of 260,000 . An interesting data point is that the Netherlands has the most public charging stations in Europe (61,000) and more charging spaces per capita than even Norway (editor’s note, which may be due to the fact that more Dutch people do not have access to their own parking space) .
Written by Jens Hagman, translation and editing Christian Pfäffli.
 Roland Berger. March 2021. link
 LeasePlan. March 2021. link