Mckinsey: Making electric vehicles profitable

Most OEMs don’t profit on selling electric vehicles. But addressing elements of the product and business model can put them on a better path. We have a clear roadmap for EV profitability.

The future looks bright for electric-vehicle (EV) growth. Consumers are more willing than ever to consider buying EVs, and sales are rising fast. Most major markets have consistently registered 50 to 60 percent growth in recent years, albeit from small bases. More new models from a growing cadre of automotive OEMs make finding a suitable EV easier: in 2018 alone OEMs launched about 100 new models and sold two million units in total globally. Likewise, performance improvements continue with respect to range, performance, and reliability. Regulations in major car markets—namely China, the European Union, and the United States—compel OEMs to produce more EVs and encourage consumers to buy them.

However, there is a problem: today, most OEMs do not make a profit from the sale of EVs. In fact, these vehicles often cost $12,000 more to produce than comparable vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines (ICEs) in the small- to midsize-car segment and the small-utility-vehicle segment (Exhibit 1). What is more, carmakers often struggle to recoup those costs through pricing alone. The result: apart from a few premium models, OEMs stand to lose money on almost every EV sold, which is clearly unsustainable.

Making electric vehicles profitable


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