The Path to Drawdown: Electric Vehicles
The first electric vehicle (EV) prototype was made in 1828, but not being able to surmount the challenge of building a lightweight, durable battery with adequate range meant that internal combustion engines have dominated the automotive and transport landscape since the 1920s.
Today that picture is changing. Thanks to supportive policies and falling costs, there are millions EVs on the road. The difference in their impact on the climate is remarkable. Compared to petroleum-based vehicles, CO2 emissions drop by 50% if an EV’s power comes from the conventional grid. If powered by solar energy, emissions are cut by 95%.
What once used to be a roadbump for EVs - the issue of how far the car can travel on a single charge - is now much less of a concern. The average range of a battery electric vehicle produced in 2020 is about 217.5 miles, up from 124 miles in 2015.
What’s making this increase in mileage possible is the continuing development in battery capacity. Global EV battery capacity is expected to increase from around 170 GWh per year today to 1.5 TWh per year in 2030. At the same time, the cost of batteries is falling as their production reaches greater scale.
The electric-powered scooter is a small segment of the overall EV market. But it enjoys strong demand in countries and regions where bicycles and scooters are widely used.
To be on track to remain under 1.5ºC of warming, 100% of passenger scooters (p. 138) need to be running on electricity by 2050. This is a jump from 40% of scooters in 2020. E-scooter production needs to continue to expand fast over the next three decades:
- 300 million (p. 134) e-scooters were on the road in 2020
- 1.2 billion e-scooters need to be on the road by 2050
This would require a CAGR of 4.73% from 2020-2050
Niu Technologies (stock ticker: NIU) is a Chinese technology company that designs, manufactures and sells electric bicycles and motorcycles. Its primary market is China, but it also ships its products to 46 countries overseas, as well as through its online store and third-party e-commerce platforms.
NIU's Role in Drawdown
Niu has been prolific in introducing new lines of electric scooters and motorcycles, as well as upgrading existing models. At the end of 2020, it had eight series (p. 46), consisting of four models of e-scooters, two models of urban commuter electric motorcycles, one performance bicycle series, and one kick-scooter series. Niu plans to continue launching two or more product series or models each year in the short and medium term.
In total, Niu sold 601,652 e-scooters in 2020. This accounts for 0.2% of the global market share in electric scooters. To maintain this market share in line with the IEA’s 2050 projection, Niu will need to produce 12,033 scooters annually by 2030, and nearly 2.5 million by 2050.
Doing so would require a CAGR 7.18% from now until the end of this decade, and 3.53% between 2030 and 2050. We have full confidence that Niu can hold its ground, given that its sales have increased year-on-year by 47.95% between 2016 and 2020.
NIU: What We Like
We applaud Niu for quickly becoming a leader in the niche yet highly in-demand market of electric scooters and motorcycles. Since its launch in 2014, Niu became the largest (p. 70) lithium-ion battery-powered e-scooters company in China and one of the largest in Europe in terms of sales.
By offering accessories, in-app services and an online community of Niu e-scooter users, Niu has built an exceptionally strong and loyal customer base, and we can expect it to continue its sales track record.