Did you know that in 2020—yes, the year when pandemic took our “normal” away— global sales of electric vehicles reached 3.1 million, a 39 percent increase in just five years? Last year’s electric vehicle sales exceeded expectations, which stands in stark contrast to its fossil-fuel based counterpart that fell by 14 percent, coming in at 66.5 million vehicles, the lowest number of annual sales for nearly a decade (sales even peaked to almost 80 million vehicles in 2017).
While such electrifying sales may be attributed to government policies that aim to reduce carbon emissions, another reason for sales spurt is the fact that electric vehicles are becoming more widely produced, resulting in a drop in price; lithium-ion battery prices are also falling and their range has also significantly increasing, some even eclipsing the range of some fossil-fuel based vehicles.
No wonder, Geely Holding Group early this year, initiated a flurry of tie-ups to position itself as the go-to contract manufacturer for electric vehicles in China and for the rest of the world. This is after it signed a new agreement with its partner, Volvo Cars, to expand their existing partnership (Geely’s purchase of Volvo back in 2010) to focus on electric vehicle development: share electric vehicle architecture, autonomous drive technologies, and even, after sales.
Geely also revealed that it will collaborate with Volvo on the development and sourcing of next-generation technologies including connectivity and autonomous driving, car sharing and electrification.
1 in 10
Currently, nearly one in 10 vehicles sold by Geely’s brands in 2020 were of pure electric or hybrid powertrain, compared to just a few years ago when electric vehicles were barely a couple of percent of sales.
Guided by its vision for a “sustainable future”, Geely’s brands have all taken steps to serve its consumers in different markets with vehicle models of varying levels of electrification (pure electric, PHEV etc.) rather than going with a one-size fits all purely electric route.
Despite last year’s production shutdowns and extended lockdown measures for COVID-19, Volvo Cars saw global sales of its plug-in hybrid and pure electric Recharge models grow exponentially. With a goal of having 50 percent of the brand’s sales coming from electrified vehicles by 2025, the progress Volvo has made last year alone gives some assurance that the brand will reach its goal ahead of schedule.
After much anticipation, the electric performance brand Polestar began delivery of its first pure electric crossover SUV, the Polestar 2, in the second half of 2020. With the brand’s commitment to digital purchasing and production capability in China, Polestar was able to get around the worst of the pandemic and fulfill its delivery commitments to thousands of customers around the world ahead of schedule.
New hybrid options
Geely Auto, which serves consumers in markets where charging infrastructure has yet to reach the level found in mature European markets, continued introducing new hybrid powertrain options in its latest models, opening the door to electrified vehicles to more consumers around the world. In urban regions with robust charging infrastructure, the brand has introduced its affordable high-tech plug-in hybrid models to great acclaim.
Lynk & Co, which opened its first Club in Amsterdam in 2020, began taking orders for its hybrid 01 model. In the European market, the brand will operate on a subscription business model offering only hybrid and electrified models, thereby promoting greener mobility.
In the commercial vehicle market, Geely New Energy Commercial Vehicle Group (GCV) and its subsidiary brands LEVC and Farizon have introduced electrified commercial vehicles including zero-emission range-extended taxis and vans, pure electric light trucks, hydrogen fuel cell passenger buses, and more specialized electric vehicles. In 2020, GCV quietly began its global expansion by signing partnership agreements in European, Korean, and Middle Eastern markets.
At the 2020 Beijing Auto Show, Geely debuted its open-source pure electric Sustainable Experience Architecture—a major part in Geely’s electrified future—and previewed the first model developed on it, the Lynk & Co ZERO Concept. Open-source means the architecture is open to brands and developers all over the world, setting the stage for Geely to become a mobility technology service provider and OEM producer.
In the previous decade, Geely laid the groundwork for an electrified future. In the next decade, Geely will begin accelerating towards an electrified future. While the more than 200,000 electrified vehicles sold by the group’s brands in 2020 is evidence of the group fulfilling its commitment to a “sustainable future”, the company believed the years to follow will undoubtedly be even more promising.
Charles E. Buban is an old timer in the Philippine automotive journalism scene. He first started covering the automotive beat in 2003, writing news and reviews of new models and car tech, among other car-related stuff. When not writing about cars, he could often be seen riding his mountain bike or doing long walks in the hope of catching a couple of legendary Pokemons.