How did COVID-19 change the car industry

Updated: Feb 2

Electric Vehicles (EV) sales are rising and Internal Combustion engine (ICE) cars cannot keep up.


2020 was a tough year for car manufacturers across the world seeing their sales drop due

to the Covid pandemic affecting the world. A notable exception among the car manufacturers was Tesla breaking its car sales record for the year selling almost 500k cars and a year-on-year increase in sales of 150%. Looking closer at the sales numbers of all manufacturers we can understand that is not just a Tesla sales boost, is a global EV sale boost. Volkswagen, Daimler (Mercedez), Ford, and PSA group (Peugeot) saw their EV sales climb to all-time highs, despite their ICE sales declining up to 50%.


With the lockdowns of 2020, people witnessed the effect pollution has on our city skies and the environment. Some of these people turned the page and embraced a more sustainable approach by buying EVs or Hybrid cars and even bikes, with bike sales reaching all-time highs. As global sales of EVs and Plug-in hybrids have skyrocketed for the year, analysts have created the term of Peak ICE car sales, which is the maximum ICE car sales ever recorded. According to BloombergNEF and their projection seen in the graph below, we might have already reached Peak ICE car sales in 2019. If we have already reached the "Peak of the ICE" we might start seeing the transition to fight climate change happening.


Graph with global passenger vehicle sales from 2015 to 2040

Another indicator that Electric vehicles are on fire and that people have turned the page are the 35 new Electric vehicles that will be released next year and the 11 EV startups that want to compete with Tesla as only EV manufacturers. These new EV startups with the names of Rivian, Lucid Motors, Lordstown Motor, Nio, Xpeng, and more have secured massive amounts of funding to compete in the auto market.


Batteries are king


The battery technology that has been around for a long time, where it has only been used on big scales only the past 10 years, has reached price-parity. Price-parity made the cost of building electric cars the same price as similar gasoline-fueled vehicles and that price was calculated at $100/kWh. This $100 parity price has been reached by the world's largest battery manufacturer, CATL. Going even further Tesla in an event in September called "Battery day" they have claimed that they can reduce battery cost by 56% in the next 3 years, making them stand out and making their batteries leap ahead of the rest of the market.

Graph showing battery costs from 2010 until the future

If the cost of batteries continues down the projected line above, EVs will be a one-way street to sustainability and zero-carbon mobility.


All the above are key indicators showing the beginning of the end of our dependency on fossil fuels for transport and have started the crossing of the chasm (as defined by Geoffrey A. Moore) of early adopters. The graph below shows a graphical representation of the theory of Mr. Moore, which he has identified for new technologies to cross the mainstream they need a push to pass the Chasm between Early adopters to most people. This has happened to a lot of technologies through the years, such as solar energy where massive reductions in prices have allowed technology to cross the chasm, and that is happening also with battery prices and Electric Vehicles. Passing the $100/kWh price parity is what will push the technology from early adoption to early majority and to everyone else.

Graph showing Moores adoption curve of new technology



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