E-Motor Survey Results

Will Hornick

Automotive IQ surveyed our international contacts working in the field of e-motors in order to learn what the experts think are the most promising markets and technologies looking ahead. We asked about market penetration for electric powertrains worldwide and asked about specific challenges facing this segment of the auto industry.

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Market Penetration

One of the major debates around alternative powertrains such as electric motors is in regard to how many vehicles will actually be produced and sold. In other words, how much market penetration will the technology achieve and which markets hold the greatest potential?

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When asked to quantify how much market share (worldwide) electric powertrain vehicles will have garnered by 2020, nearly 68% responded with 4% or less (32% said less than 2%, 36% said between 2 and 4%). Another telling statistic is that less than 10% of those surveyed believe that electric powertrains can gain greater than 8% market share worldwide in the next six years.

Of the major car markets worldwide, our survey identified China (~42%) as the most promising followed by Europe. Given the European Commission initiative ‘Green eMotion’ with goals of creating Europe-wide standards and assisting in the roll-out of EVs, it is no surprise that companies feel a certain level of support in Europe. China has the potential to become the world’s largest car market and the government has an ambitious target of 5 million EV’s on the road by 2020. Their support of EVs once again includes low-speed electric vehicles which may be very relevant for the urban Chinese market.

Promising E-Motor Concepts

According to our survey, the most promising technology is the permanent magnet synchronous motor with 39% in favor. Given the instability in the market for rare earth metals, a number of companies are working on technology processes that will reduce the amount of these rare earth metals needed for the motors.

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23% of respondents chose the asynchronous designed motor. Most car manufacturers utilize permanent magnet motors for their hybrids and EVs. Tesla (and Tesla-designed Toyota powertrains) is the exception using an AC induction motor for their model S.


Energy storage is seen as the greatest challenge to the success and development of e-motors with 48% making it their challenge of choice. Cost is also a major factor for development and of particular concern to the auto industry as profit margins are incredibly slim on many individual models. Only 13% of those surveyed felt that infrastructure presented itself as the key challenge.

Automotive IQ also asked a very specific challenge question: Do you believe that Tesla will be able to provide Europe with a wide range of superchargers [fast-charging network) by winter 2014? Roughly 65% do not believe that this is achievable.

R&D Spending

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Based on the results of this survey, despite a number of government incentives to meet high targets for electric powertrain vehicles, the reality of the predicted market share is significantly more conservative. That reality is also reflected by the relative R&D spending by companies for 2014 relative to 2013. 59% said that their companies have not increased R&D spending this year. On a more optimistic note, 35% said that their companies are indeed increasing R&D spending at least marginally.

To learn more about the latest technologies and issues, join us at the 2nd Advanced E-Motor Technology Conferencein Frankfurt, Germany.

Will Hornick is the Managing Editor of Automotive IQ

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