Traditional manufacturers are currently playing a “zero sum game” because growth in electric car sales eats into the value of internal combustion engine factories, which “are effectively stranded assets”.
Philippe Houchois, an analyst at Jefferies, an investment bank, said carmakers’ share prices will be in large part dependent on their ability to avoid losses on fossil fuel assets. “If you want to be a better valued carmaker you need to find a way to shrink your assets faster than a gradual transition to electric vehicles would suggest,” he said.
The industry has already made significant steps away from fossil fuels. The year 2020 will be seen as key for electric cars because of new EU regulations that mandated a limit on average carbon dioxide emissions of 95g/km across all cars sold. The UK has committed to carrying on its emissions regime at an equivalent or stronger level after the Brexit transition period ends on 1 January 2021.
The regulations have prompted a rapid increase in electric car sales as carmakers scrambled to avoid fines worth hundreds of millions of euros – although Volkswagen has already conceded that it will miss its 2020 target, incurring a fine estimated at around €270m (£248m).
BMW announced on Sunday it would build 250,000 more electric cars than it had previously planned between now and 2023. Oliver Zipse, the company’s chief executive, said he wanted roughly 20% of cars it sells to be electric by 2023, up from 8% this year.
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