EV BASICS 1O9: Why can't some EVs match the price & spec of native platforms such as Tesla


As EVs becoming mass-market products, it is time to get some detailed understanding on the pricing dynamics from the architecture design perspective as well. Here’re some insights from McKinsey.

McKinsey, along with a leading automotive benchmarking services conducted a detailed tear-down benchmarking on all the leading electric vehicles in the market. The benchmark analysis shows some light into the factors that contributes significant cost & specification differences.

ICE platforms don't work that well when fitted with EV drivetrains

The benchmarking shows a clear gap in driving range and interior space between models with native EV platforms and those based on ICE. Native EVs optimize battery packaging; non-native EVs force the battery into the awkward footprint of the ICE platform, which limits the realized energy capacity. The native EV battery pack, by contrast, can take a simple, rectangular shape, giving native EVs up to twice the range—over 300 kilometres per charge and up to approximately 400 kilometres for the best performers. 

In addition, native EVs achieve a larger interior space (up to 10 percent by regression line) for the same wheelbase compared with not only non-native counterparts, but also standard ICE vehicles in the same segment. 

Many OEMs are finding out the hard way that ICE platforms don't work that well when fitted with EV drivetrains. Their design is a compromise, and the money saved in platform development really shows in interior room, driving performance and range.

BMW iX3, Mercedes EQC, Audi e-tron and Lexus UX EV are good examples of why this is a bad idea. Other adoptive EV models such as Hyundai Kona and Kia e-Niro have managed to have a quite affordable long range, yet are struggling to match the cost price. Tesla figured this out more than 10 years ago and designed the Model-S from scratch and it's still a benchmark EV today.

The report also shares insights into:

➤ No convergence on core EV powertrain design: At present no convergence toward a unique technology or solution, OEMs will still need to invest in these areas to make optimal trade-offs on cost and performance in battery and thermal management design.

➤ Design for performance vs range: OEMs have started consistently applying design to cost (DTC), in particular to the EVs’ powertrain and body-in-white design, as the battle for performance and range has been won. This trend of Design-to-cost efforts focused on component integration and use of materials notably emerges in second-generation EVs such as Nissan Leaf.

➤ Make Vs Buy choices on core components: EV OEMs follow different powertrain and battery supply-chain strategies for electric vehicles. There may be no need to reinvent (redesign/manufacture) stuff which are already designed & manufactured by specialists. 


Further read: Here’s the link to the full report from McKinsey. The report was made in late 2017, yet the findings are still valid. Take time to read, you may find it interesting and insightful.

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