2013 Electric Vehicles
Will Natural Gas Kill the Electric Truck?
There are a handful of analysts who believe electric cars will never be anything more than a giant failure.
And there's one in particular who's actually made a nice little name for himself bashing electric cars over the past few years. I'm not going to tell you his name, because I don't want to give him any publicity. I believe his intentions to be dishonorable and his analysis dishonest.
Still, he's a pretty smart guy who presents arguments that tend to be quite persuasive to those who don't know much about electric car development. I often get emails from readers that quote him, asking whether or not his analysis is sound.
The truth is some of it is. I've yet to find any factual errors in his analysis.
But because it's never objective, never takes into consideration historical data relevant to disruptive vehicle technologies, and never includes projections based on much more than what seems to be a “hunch,” its relevance is limited when it comes to the discussion on electric vehicles — particularly for investors.
However, there is plenty of quality analysis out there that does offer objective viewpoints: analysis that is undertaken and published by seasoned market analysts who don't seem to have ulterior motives...
Like Pike Research, for instance.
These guys have been at the forefront of EV analysis for years. And it's not always the kind of analysis that makes EV enthusiasts, investors, and supporters do cartwheels — but it is some of the most honest available.
It's why we regularly look to Pike for indications of where the market is heading...
Over the past few months, I've seen about a dozen or so electric car predictions for 2013. Some seemed reasonable, some seemed way too optimistic, and some were nothing more than bash pieces disguised at “predictions.”
But the best electric vehicle predictions for 2013 I've seen so far have come from the folks over at Pike Research. So I'm including some of them in today's Modern Energy Report.
Check it out:
- Private funding for EV companies is drying up fast, and a number of companies will be forced to exit the market — unless they get acquired, likely on less-than-generous terms.
- Most investment in 2013 is expected to flow toward companies developing battery components. Companies like Dow Energy Materials and BASF will continue to invest heavily in anode, cathode, and electrolyte material R&D.
- Despite the availability of quick-charging stations, cost is likely to keep most host sites from installing them. Pike acknowledges the argument that without quick-charging stations, it will be difficult to grow demand. But if more and more folks find basic Level 1 chargers adequate, this could definitely slow large-scale adoption of quick-charging systems.
- In 2013 Volkswagen and BMW will bring seven new EV models to the market. The arrival of these vehicles is expected to help the German EV market more than double in 2013.
- Sales of e-bikes in North America will grow in excess of 50% to more than 158,000 bikes. On a global scale, the market will grow to more than 33.6 million units in 2013.
- Despite strong EV sales in 2011 and 2012, the availability of dirt-cheap natural gas has increased interest in natural gas trucks. As a result, interest in electric trucks will decline.
It certainly isn't going to be smooth sailing ahead in 2013... but there's no doubt the EV industry is still continuing to develop.
From my perspective, I expect to see U.S. sales of electric cars to continue roughly the same growth pattern as we saw in 2012: nothing earth-shattering, but still significant enough to keep car and battery manufacturers motivated to continue with technological improvements and cost-reduction programs.
The bashers will still be out in full force next year, because, well, that's what they do.
But more and more of their diatribes will fall on deaf ears, as there are only so many times you can recycle the same tired, inconsistent, and manufactured arguments.
That being said, for investors, there will be little action here in 2013...
Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) will continue to chug along, pissing off the EV haters and wooing EV supporters.
And the big players that pump out batteries as a very small part of their overall business will be unstoppable on production costs, R&D funding, and access to various energy storage markets.
In other words, there's no room in this space for start-ups anymore. It's big dogs only, and EV pure plays will be almost non-existent from here on out.
The maturation of the market is clearly under way.
To a new way of life and a new generation of wealth...
@JeffSiegel on Twitter
Jeff is the managing editor of Energy and Capital and contributing analyst for the Energy Investor, an independent investment research service focusing primarily on stocks in the oil & gas, modern energy and infrastructure markets. He has been a featured guest on Fox, CNBC, and Bloomberg Asia, and is the author of the best-selling book, Investing in Renewable Energy: Making Money on Green Chip Stocks. For more on Jeff, go to his editor''s page.