Global sales of electric cars almost halved at the beginning of the year. According to analysts, only 662,000 fully electric and hybrid vehicles were sold globally in January – a decrease of 48 percent compared to December. Compared to January 2022, global sales grew by only 9 percent, writes asset manager Bernstein in a study published on Monday. This is the weakest increase since 2020, when the shock of the corona pandemic hit the global economy hard.

Marcus Theurer

Editor in the economy of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

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The world's largest electric car market by far performed poorly: In China, sales of electric vehicles fell by 5 percent year-on-year in January, while in Europe they rose by only a modest 3 percent. Business only boomed in North America, where sales figures at the beginning of the year were 65 percent higher than in the previous year.

America promotes

The analysis company Rystad Energy speaks of a "dramatic collapse" in the business with electric cars. It is one of the strongest declines to date. Practically all manufacturers rely heavily on the future market of electric cars and invest many billions in the development and construction of electrically powered vehicles and the batteries required for them.

Experts cite lower subsidies for the purchase of electric cars in important markets such as China and Europe as the reason for the sharp losses. In Germany, too, government purchase premiums for electric vehicles were cut at the beginning of the year. In the US, on the other hand, sales benefit from newly created subsidies under the government's Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), write the auto experts at Bernstein.

European battery cell and car manufacturers such as Northvolt, Volkswagen and Schaeffler also want to expand in the United States with new factories. The U.S. market has become "highly attractive" due to the IRA, Audi CEO Markus Duesmann recently said in an interview with F.A.S. However, Bernstein analysts expect the global market for electric cars to recover overall in the longer term and to grow strongly again.

The different manufacturers performed very differently in January. The Chinese company BYD ("Build your dreams") in particular was on a strong expansion course. The manufacturer, which now also sells its cars in Europe, was in first place in January with a global market share of 23 percent, clearly ahead of Tesla with 15 percent. The German manufacturers BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen have so far only achieved global market shares in the lower single-digit percentage range in the electric car business.