Mercedes-Benz and BMW are leaning towards plug-in hybrids. The era of pure electric has not yet arrived?

When the wave of electrification swept the world irreversibly, traditional European giants such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volkswagen made another choice tacitly.

According to foreign media reports on March 18, Mercedes-Benz and BMW are increasing their investment in plug-in hybrid models to meet stringent EU 2020 carbon emission standards. The two luxury car giants said that the application of plug-in hybrid systems on more models will help the company reduce its carbon emissions by 20% this year.

One day earlier than Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Volkswagen Group also emphasized that it will "accelerate the launch of plug-in hybrid models" when interpreting financial data for 2019.

Some people believe that the shift of hybrid car models by auto giants is a technological retrogression towards electrification. Zhong Shi, a senior analyst in the automotive industry, told Future Auto Daily that "this is actually a helpless move."

The so-called "toughest" EU carbon emission regulation has begun to be implemented: by 2020, new vehicles will emit no more than 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, far lower than 122 grams required by Japan and 117 grams by China. The European Union further stipulates that by 2030, the emission target will be reduced by 35% to 61.75 grams per kilometer, which is the highest carbon dioxide emission reduction target in the world.

Under the heavy pressure, several major European auto giants had to make expedient measures to deal with the carbon emissions crisis by inserting hybrid models first. This also reflects a problem from the side. In the eyes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and other car companies, the large-scale deployment of pure electric vehicles may not be time.

Why are the giants "going down"?

European traditional auto giants that have announced their transition to electrification have made plug-in hybrid models the best choice for the transition phase.

According to Automotive News, Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce plug-in hybrid versions in the C- and E-class models, and commercial vehicles will also add plug-in hybrid drives. At present, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and B-Class models already have plug-in versions, and by the end of 2020, more than 20 plug-in models will be launched. In contrast, Mercedes-Benz only has one pure electric vehicle EQC on sale, and the second pure electric vehicle EQV is planned to be launched this summer. Judging from the quantity and timeline, the plug-in hybrid obviously precedes the pure electric one.

According to Daimler Group Chief Operating Officer Marcus Schaeffer, "Hybrid models are the best of both worlds at the current technological level. People usually travel a distance of no more than 50 kilometers. Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid models are purely electric The cruising range can reach 70 kilometers, which can fully meet the needs of consumers and achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions. "

In addition, plug-in hybrid models are more in line with consumer usage habits. When the convenience of charging cannot be compared with refueling, consumers' acceptance of plug-in hybrid models is higher than that of pure electric vehicles.

BMW and Volkswagen also chose to plug in hybrid models as the first step in electrified transformation.

According to Automotive News, BMW will launch plug-in versions on two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models, such as 330e full-drive plug-in, X1 plug-in, X2 plug-in, and 3 series plug-in. The existing plug-in technology will also be further enhanced. The battery capacity of the 2020 BMW 3 Series plug-in version will increase from 7.2 kWh to 12 kWh per group, and the pure battery life will nearly double to 25 miles (about 40 kilometers).


BMW's new X1 Source: BMW's official website

Volkswagen's intermixing strategy is a step further. At present, Volkswagen has launched six plug-in hybrid models in the Chinese market, including the hybrid version of the new generation Touareg, FAW-Volkswagen Magotan GTE Concept and Tan Yue GTE Concept. GTE is the way Volkswagen names some plug-in hybrid models. "GT" stands for high performance, and "E" means electrification. Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess revealed that Volkswagen Group will launch 15 new pure electric vehicles and 18 plug-in hybrid models from 2020-2021.

Pushing plug and play does not mean that European car giants have given up pure circuit lines. "They attach great importance to the development, manufacture and promotion of electric vehicles," Zhong Shi told Future Auto Daily (ID: auto-time). "For Mercedes-Benz and BMW, it takes time to overcome electric vehicle technology, and there has not yet been a large scale worldwide. Large-scale pure electric vehicle market. Therefore, they only need to quietly accumulate power and wait for the time to mature. "

Unable to mass deploy pure electric vehicles in a short time, it is urgent to meet the requirements of carbon emission standards. British consulting firm PA believes that if Daimler and BMW's carbon emissions data are not further reduced, they will face fines of 997 million euros and 754 million euros, respectively. Although the production cost of the production of hybrid vehicles increases, it is far less than the fine.

Interrupting first, becoming the best choice for Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen right now.

Time for pure electric vehicles

The choice of giants is often a hint of inspiration. They need to find the best balance between technological innovation and group revenue. Is it the first time that pure electric vehicles have arrived?

According to the data of China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (hereinafter referred to as the "China Automobile Association"), from January to February, the cumulative sales of pure electric passenger cars in China fell by 61.3% year-on-year to 39,000 units, and the sales of plug-in hybrid passenger cars were 15,000 , A year-on-year decrease of 55%, both of which exceeded the overall level of the industry (passenger car sales in the same period decreased by 43.6% year-on-year), and the decline of pure electric vehicles was slightly higher than plug-in models.


Source: China Automobile Association

When the automobile market as a whole suffered a setback, the slump of subsidy advantages for electric vehicles was particularly prominent.

One of the main reasons is the inconvenience of charging. According to the charging pile operation data released by the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance (hereinafter referred to as the "Charging Alliance"), as of December 2019, the total number of public charging stations and private charging stations nationwide was 1.219 million, a year-on-year increase of 50.8%. . During the same period, the cumulative sales of new energy vehicles reached 4.2 million, with a vehicle-to-pile ratio of 3.4: 1.

The State Council has previously issued the “Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Construction of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure”. By 2020, sales of new energy vehicles in the country will reach 5 million, and the number of charging piles will reach 4.8 million. However, the current number of charging piles is far from 4.8 million.

Even Tesla owners at the top of the electric car despise chain have many complaints about "inconvenient charging." A Tesla owner in Shanghai complained on a social platform that there are many overcharge stations in Shanghai that start to line up in the afternoon, and the existing service center can be said to be a waste of money.

In addition, the uneven distribution of charging piles has also made it difficult for large-scale deployment of pure electric vehicles. According to the data of the Charging Alliance, the public charging infrastructure construction area is still relatively concentrated. Guangdong, Jiangsu, Beijing, Shanghai, Shandong, Zhejiang, Anhui, Hebei, Hubei, Fujian and other TOP 10 regions have a public charging infrastructure of 73.9%. Tibet Northwest China and Xinjiang accounted for less than 5%. From the perspective of the development of supporting facilities, the popularity standard of pure electric vehicles has not yet been reached.

Global data analysis company LMC Automotive estimates that plug-in hybrid vehicles in Europe will increase to 717,000 units in 2020, occupying a 4% market share; pure electric vehicle sales are expected to be 652,000 units, accounting for 3.6% %, The market share of hybrid vehicles will exceed pure electric vehicles.

Recently, global oil prices have plummeted, and domestic refined oil prices have also fallen sharply. According to the National Development and Reform Commission, starting at 24:00 on March 17, domestic gasoline and diesel prices have fallen by 1015 yuan (USD $145) and 975 yuan (USD $139) per ton, respectively. After the price cut, gasoline prices are back to the long-lost 5 yuan era. This move has given rise to the momentum of fuel vehicles that were once considered to be withdrawing from the stage of history, and there is a saying that "oil is cheap and hurt new." CCTV financial commentator Zhang Hong once believed that low oil prices were not conducive to energy innovation, including the development and promotion of new energy vehicles.

With the decline in oil prices and subsidies no longer, will the future of pure electric vehicles be more distant?