Electric-Vehicle Shift Becomes Life-or-Death Risk for Automakers

Electric-Vehicle Shift Becomes Life-or-Death Risk for Automakers



Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

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The shift to electric vehicles won’t happen like the flip of a light switch.

The global auto market for the next two decades will be driven by a “mosaic” of propulsion systems, including battery power, hydrogen power, gas-electric hybrids and century-old, petroleum-powered internal-combustion engines.

That’s the finding of a comprehensive study of the developing electric-vehicle market by consultant KPMG titled, “Place Your Billion-Dollar Bets Wisely.” It posits the $200 billion automakers are pouring into EVs now — more than what KPMG estimates NASA spent adjusted for inflation to put a man on the moon — is chasing sales that will represent 24% to 37% of the global auto market by 2030.

The fate of automakers will be determined by how executives balance the decline of the internal-combustion engine with the rise of battery power, along with other drivetrains. If electric vehicles achieve 30% market share by 2030, that will leave the auto industry with 40 million vehicles of excess capacity for gas-powered cars — the equivalent of 200 unneeded factories.

“The stakes could not be higher,” the study says. “New dominant positions will be built, and old empires may fall.” The changeover to electric will result in “massive structural change” in the auto industry, and there is no easy formula for success.

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