All the major players in the global auto industry envision a big electric tomorrow—and almost everyone outside of China is making their profits today on trucks, SUVs and other vehicles paired with gas-burning engines.
Consider Ford Motor Co.: In the first half of the year, it had three models in the U.S. available with some form of electric motor. For every one of those it sold, the company moved 35 machines running on fossil fuels. This from a company that has declared itself “all in” on electric vehicles.
Of course, there will be a crush of battery-powered Fords coming to dealerships in the coming years. In the meantime, however, Ford sits a distant No. 25 in a new ranking of electric-vehicle makers by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This annual scorecard seeks to make clear which companies are putting actual money behind their electric talking points. It’s not a tally of who’s selling the most electric vehicles or building batteries with the longest range; BNEF has instead created a weighted index of what share of each automaker’s resources and offerings are riding on electric.
Here are the three main takeaways from BNEF’s look at who has the most riding right now on the electric future.
1. China dominates the electric vanguardElectric vehicles are a major tool in China’s plans to cut air pollution, and the country has rolled out a rash of aggressive policies to make sure people drive quietly, whether they prefer to or not. At the national level, the country has installed a steep timeline of mandates requiring automakers to devote ever greater portions of production to what Chinese policy calls new-energy vehicles. These policies and incentives are working. In much of China right now, it can take more than a year to get a license to own a gasoline-powered car.
Roughly half of all EV purchases are made in China. Not surprisingly, 14 of the 34 companies ranked by BNEF are based in China, including nine of the top 10.
“It really was an extraordinary year for the electric vehicle in China,” said BNEF analyst Josh Landess. Topping the list is Shenzhen-based BYD Co., which is backed by Warren Buffett. It sold more than 100,000 electric vehicles in 2017, including public buses and trucks.
2. BMW leads among the laggardsOutside of China, the only automaker to crack the top 10 is BMW AG. BNEF’s model ranked the company ninth overall and noted that it sold nearly 60,000 plug-in hybrids last year. At the moment, BMW buyers can get a plug-in version of its three top-selling sedans —small, medium and large—as well as its X5 SUV.
The other largest carmakers are idling low on the BNEF list, far from BMW and coming in far behind China’s EV-oriented automakers. This huge gap between giants such as General Motors, Honda Motor and Fiat Chrysler and China’s automakers can be explained by BNEF’s methodology. The millions of gas-powered models cranked out by these companies skew index scores, overpowering any nascent electric offerings.
“A lot of them made progress, and it can tend to get drowned out a little,” Landess said. “These companies are making millions of vehicles a year; that’s a big ship to turn around.”
3. Tesla isn’t big enough to rank right nowBNEF analysts didn’t consider companies making less than 250,000 vehicles a year—and that explains why Tesla Inc. doesn’t show up on this ranking. In 2017, in fact, Tesla fell well short of that mark. A continued car-making frenzy this year, in the aftermath of the company’s infamous “production hell,” could get Tesla onto the next version of the scorecard. As long as Elon Musk can “overcome delivery-logistics hell.”