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ICE and EV divisions are opening up all over

One thing that’s become increasingly apparent over the last few months, is that there’s a division opening up between the makers of Electric Vehicles (EVs), and legacy carmakers who are still predominantly making Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles.

It’s a rift that’s apparent within national car markets, but it’s also developed an international dimension with China, the world’s biggest EV maker, increasingly pitted against the Japanese and other producers.

Here in Australia, we’ve seen Tesla march out of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) over what it alleges are its “demonstrably false and deceiving statements” against the Federal Government’s emissions regulations. It was promptly followed by Chinese maker Polestar, while Volkswagen resigned from the FCAI’s Policy Advisory Committee in protest as well.

Business Interests

What’s at stake is a clash of business interests. On one side are EV makers, and carmakers who see their immediate future as electric. They’ll benefit from the government’s emission standards. And on the other side are the legacy ICE vehicle makers who see those standards as a sales threat. In Australia, that’s seen American maker Tesla, side with China’s Polestar, but internationally the situation is a little less straightforward.

Internationally it’s starting to look like China versus the rest, and that’s because China now has the world’s biggest vehicle market. It sees the future of the car as electric, and as a result its huge electric vehicle production is set to dominate global EV sales. At home, China’s EV sales increased by 82% in 2022, while being responsible for 35% of global EV exports that year. China now has no less than 500 EV makers producing increasingly sophisticated high-quality cars. And the threat to legacy carmakers is that those cars keep getting cheaper and cheaper. How cheap? Well, BYD is now selling its Seagull compact car in China from a mere 69,800 yuan, or about $15,000AUD.

Falling Prices

The Chinese threat to the existing vehicle order is immense as EV prices plunge towards parity with ICE vehicles. Japanese makers like Toyota, Mazda and Nissan seem flat-footed in response, while the Koreans – Hyundai and Kia – seem better prepared to meet the challenge. It’s hard to fathom the apparent nonchalance of Toyota’s rearguard action against the Chinese EV threat. Its CEO’s prediction that EVs will only ever amount to 30% of the new car market could reasonably be described as “courageous”.

It's worth asking the question: once EVs reach price parity with ICE vehicles, why would the average motorist choose a vehicle that’s more expensive to run, and not as good to drive as an EV, if the EV had a range that met their needs?

Time will tell whether ICE vehicles are destined to become the preserve of rusted-on petrol-heads, but already a small minority of them seem personally threatened by the rise-and-rise of EVs. How else to describe the emergence of the bizarre and anti-social behaviour of “ICEing”, or deliberately parking a petrol or diesel vehicle in an EV charging space to prevent drivers from recharging their vehicles?

One New Zealander even took things a step further recently by vandalising four Tesla superchargers in Taupo with a sledgehammer. Elsewhere, some EV owners have reported abuse at the hands of ICE drivers, and even vandalism of their vehicles.

It’s a strange, strange world that we live in, and some people are obviously threatened by change. But EVs are now an unstoppable force, and some people – and some carmakers – had better get used to that idea.

Written by
Mark Schneider

Mark is a successful copywriter with over 20 years of professional writing experience.

We welcome him as a guest blogger to Fleettorque.

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