The EV Index from Sophus3 provides an objective measure of the readiness of the vehicle market to enable and encourage the mainstream adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
The index is formed from three pillars, each measuring distinct factors that help or hinder electric vehicle acquisition. First of these is the consumer appetite to buy electric, the second is the capability of the automotive companies to supply these cars, and the third is the availability of suitable charging infrastructure.
A score of 100 represents parity in the attractiveness, availability, pricing and usability of an electric car compared with a conventionally fuelled vehicle.
Currently we produce the EV Index for each of the Big 5 European economies plus Norway — we plan to add other markets in the future.
A fuller explanation of the EV Index from Sophus3 can be found here along with links to previous releases.
The volatility caused by the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with a hangover from high profile launches in the second half of 2019, resulted in several of the European EV Indexes showing quarter-on-quarter decline.
Of these, the UK registered the steepest drop with a swing from 40 to 34, a decline of 15 per cent, driven primarily by a reduction in consumer interest. We measure this by tracking audience to EV pages in car brand sites, benchmarked against other sources such as search trends.
Early indications are that it was caused by the disproportionate boost in the previous two quarters by popular launches such as the Tesla 3, VW ID.3, Ford Mach-E and Mini Electric.
The other measures on the UK index, affordability/choice and infrastructure, are both showing some improvement in Q1 2020. This is down to several factors, including better model choice for EV buyers, a decrease in the average cost of the most popular EVs (albeit balanced by a corresponding reduction in average cost for the most popular non-EVs) and an increase in the number of charging stations in the UK.
Notwithstanding the current crisis, the UK should make progress this year as online promotion ramps up and deliveries start of EVs from Vauxhall, Peugeot, Volkswagen, Fiat, Mini and Honda.
Germany weathered the early stages of the coronavirus storm better than other European countries and the Q1 2020 EV Index shows improvements in every metric. Leading the way is consumer interest, which has benefitted from a spike in visits to EV content on car brand sites following a relatively poor performance in the previous quarter. It is backed up by positive movements in affordability/choice and infrastructure.
One significant factor in Germany’s performance is the average pricing of the most popular EVs, which is much closer to the average of price of the most popular non-EVs. In fact, of all the countries analysed, Germany has the narrowest price differential, which reflects both the strength of EVs but also the fact that German buyers spend more on their new car purchases than any other country in the European Big 5.
The biggest challenge to EV adoption in Germany remains the ongoing strong commitment to non-EV models, which continue to get the lion’s share of marketing spend. So although EVs are growing steadily, the overall score of 46 shows that there is still a long way to go before EVs achieve the 100 score that would represent parity with non-EVs. We await Q2 figures with interest following the German government’s decision to introduce aggressive incentives for low-carbon vehicles at the start of June.
France’s position on the Index is largely flat quarter-on-quarter despite a decrease in visits to EV content on car brand sites, which was balanced by a strong performance in search traffic.
Like the other Big 5 countries, with the exception of Germany, the average price of the most popular petrol/diesel new cars in France is much lower than that of EVs, making it more difficult to persuade consumers to switch. The French government’s decision to introduce aggressive incentives to encourage EV adoption at the end of May is likely to start addressing this from Q2 onwards.
France has made some progress with its EV charging infrastructure, despite the high-profile withdrawal of 189 fast charging stations by EDF subsidiary Izivia because of ‘security concerns’ in March, and has registered a 10-point improvement over Q4 2019.
Italy has been struggling with EV adoption across all of our metrics and the modest improvement in Q1 2020 hides a dismal performance for audience visits to EV content on car brand sites, which nose-dived from an already weak position. The combination of poor charging infrastructure, high EV costs and a lack of choice is proving too much to tempt Italy consumers away from the more convenient and affordable alternatives.
The only signs of life are some anaemic growth in the infrastructure score and slightly improved affordability, but it will take the introduction of cheaper EVs such as the Fiat 500 and Opel Corsa, plus a ramping up of infrastructure and incentives from the Italian government, to reverse Italy’s fortunes.
Like Italy, Spain suffers from the twin evils of patchy charging infrastructure and poor affordability. The size of the country relative to population and low average cost of the most popular petrol/diesel models means that, despite signs that the Spanish online audience is interested in EVs, the country sits well below the Big 5 average. So far, there is little evidence that the Spanish government’s MOVES initiative, which committed €45 million in EV subsidies including a €5500 grant for private EV buyers, is having the desired effect.
The launch of Seat’s first all-electric car, the El Born, later this year will be a focal point for Spain, but the arrival of cheaper EVs such as the Fiat 500 are likely to be what’s needed to stimulate demand.
Norway remains our benchmark for EV adoption and continues to over-index in the key areas of consumer interest and infrastructure. In Q1 2020 it increased an already impressive lead in the Index to an overall score of 82, tantalisingly close to the goal of 100 which would represent parity with petrol/diesel.
Norway has achieved this despite suffering the same challenges of consumer choice by introducing a stable regime of registration tax and VAT exemptions for pure EVs to help it to achieve its zero emission targets.
In March 2020, pure EVs and plug-in hybrids represented an amazing 82 per cent of Norway’s new-car market, although the fact that the premium priced Audi e-tron was the biggest-selling car overall points to Norway’s unusual market conditions. It will be up to more affordable models such as those from Fiat, Opel, Peugeot and Citroën to truly democratise EV ownership.