The Power of Empathy in the Workplace

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We’ve all had those moments of pure attention, when it seems everyone in the room is attracted to your energy. Yet for many of us, that place is difficult to tap into. Your mind races with nervousness about something previously said and you worry about what to say next, each distraction lessening the power of your interaction.

The key to success in these moments is empathy. This ability to understand and relate to others is a powerful skill that takes work, but in mastering it, you can better both your personal and professional interactions.

Related: Use these five elements of psychology to improve your writing.

The Power of Empathy

Empathy is about establishing trust by outwardly recognizing what someone else is experiencing. It’s difficult for people to fully engage in any interaction if they don’t feel that they are being heard and understood.

Think about how free and open your interactions are with close friends and family. Your conversations are super productive because you have each freed yourself to fully engage.

However, at work or in our other day-to-day interactions, we are naturally cautious. We withhold information, we don’t ask the tough questions, and it’s much harder to make decisions or resolve issues. That generally leads to subpar outcomes.

Four Steps for Practicing Empathy

1. Observe: Pay attention to voice, tone, body language, and the situation.
2. Listen: What feelings and emotions are being conveyed?
3. Interpret: What needs are behind those feelings and emotions?
4. Share: Openly state what you think you understand about the other person and ask for feedback to make sure you’re right.

Straightforward, right? Not exactly.

Why Listening is Scientifically a Struggle

Being a good empathizer is largely connected with being a good listener.

Chris Voss, former FBI negotiator and author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, explains that it’s a struggle to focus in attentive moments because listening is far from a passive activity. It is the most active thing you can do, and empathetic listening can power some of the most fundamental functions of your workplace.

If you struggle with listening, you are not alone. Renowned author and journalist Michael Pollan examined this difficulty in his recent book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence.

Pollan found that a major area of the brain known as the default mode network (DMN), which acts as an overseer keeping brain operations in check, is most likely the very operator that makes active listening so difficult.

How the DMN Works

The DMN is what kicks in when you have nothing to do. And it seems to be responsible for the construction of what we call the self or ego. It’s all that noise that comes pouring in when you’re in idle; the flood of thoughts about the past and future and myriad distractions that we often feel powerless to overcome. It can become who we are. It also leads to rumination and self-referential thinking, which is not conducive to empathy.

The DMN is powerful, but you are not powerless to resist it. Attention, focus, and active listening help quiet the ego, allowing you more effective listening.

Try this: Consistent meditation, even just 10 minutes a day, has been shown to decrease activity in the DMN, which then leads to better empathy.

Practicing Empathy in the Workplace

Empathy in the workplace is something I encourage the team at D Custom to actively practice. Here are some of the things it can power.

Empathy and Negotiating

While Voss’ FBI negotiations might not be the first place your mind goes in wondering where and how empathy might be better understood and applied, it is paramount in their field. As he notes, when preparing for a negotiation, it’s more important to concentrate on demeanor and state of mind rather than what you will say or do. This is empathy in all its glory.

Empathy and Trust

Empathy establishes trust, and establishing trust enables more productive working relationships. By practicing empathy in the workplace, you will expose goals and concerns more readily. And you cannot resolve issues until that comes from both sides.

Implementing empathy to build trust starts with recognizing people’s fears and validating them without passing judgment or offering a solution. If you do that in a consistent way as a team member or leader, you will get all manner of engagement from your team.

Empathy and Creativity

Empathy is about a genuine connection, and active listening is a gateway to thoughtful collaboration. Ideas come to light in a creative environment, and an attentive approach helps increase input so much that possibilities expand in a way they would not have otherwise.

Empathy can be a force for powerful relationships. From persuading groups to negotiating with terrorists to growing a fruitful community of coworkers, empathy emerges as an imminent provider of success. It’s wired into our psychology to the point that we can’t resist it. So be present and empathy will follow. From that, the possibilities are boundless.

By Paul Buckley

Source: The Power of Empathy in the Workplace | D Custom

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Amazon To Buy Plug Power’s ‘Green’ Hydrogen In Deal With $2.1 Billion Stock Option

An electric warehouse forklift uses Plug Power's fuel cell system. Plug Power

Plug Power, which supplies fuel cells for electric forklifts used by Amazon and other companies, said the retail giant plans to buy thousands of tons of carbon-free “green” hydrogen from it per year in a deal that also includes an option to acquire a stake in the company worth up to $2.1 billion.

Under the agreement Plug will begin providing Amazon with 10,950 tons of liquified hydrogen per year that will be used to fuel transportation and building operations, starting in 2025. It’s the biggest such deal to date for the Latham, New York-based company, which expects to hit an annual revenue target of $3 billion by 2025 as a result.

“It’s a huge deal … it’s a huge deal for the (hydrogen) industry,” Andy Marsh, Plug Power’s CEO, tells Forbes. Along with fuel for forklifts, Amazon may also use hydrogen to power a range of vehicles used in delivery operations, including long-haul trucks, he said. “It’s the first, much larger-scale hydrogen ecosystem for Amazon where they’re really thinking about all the applications they can use hydrogen in.”

Hydrogen is expected to become a major source of electric power, along with batteries, for both vehicle propulsion, as well as an option for stationary power generation and storage. While most industrial hydrogen that’s used for oil refining, food processing and the chemical industry is currently made by extracting the element from natural gas, that method emits carbon dioxide.

Companies including Plug, Cummins, Nikola, Nel Hydrogen and many others are shifting to a new technique using electrolyzers that can make a “green” form of the fuel from electricity–ideally from renewable sources–and water that has no climate-harming carbon emissions.

Hydrogen also gets a boost from the new Inflation Reduction Act signed into law this month by President Joe Biden, which includes a production tax credit for green hydrogen worth $3 per kilogram of carbon-free fuel.

Plug, which will benefit from that credit, has sold Amazon fuel cells for its warehouse forklifts since 2016, and estimates it’s provided more than 15,000 units to date. The company aims to expand its hydrogen fuel supply business and is adding production capacity to do that. Plug has said it will be able to make 500 tons of green hydrogen per day at facilities in North America by 2025, up from a goal of 70 tons per day by the end of this year.

By 2028, it hopes to produce 1,000 tons of hydrogen per day. Amazon said the deal is part of efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across all its operations by 2040. It believes “scaling the supply and demand for green hydrogen, such as through this agreement with Plug Power, will play a key role in helping us achieve our goals,” Kara Hurst, Amazon’s vice president of sustainability at Amazon, said in a statement.

As part of the deal, Plug granted Amazon a warrant to acquire up to 16 million shares, with an exercise price of $22.98 for the first 9 million. It vests in full after Amazon spends $2.1 billion on Plug products over the seven-year term of the deal.Shares of Plug Power rose 9% to close at $30 in Nasdaq trading on Thursday.

I track technology-driven changes that reshape how we get around from Los Angeles, America’s sunny capital of congestion.

Source: Amazon To Buy Plug Power’s ‘Green’ Hydrogen In Deal With $2.1 Billion Stock Option

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Crypto Cards Are Giving Bitcoin Purchase Power

Spending your cryptocurrency was once a headache-inducing endeavour. Not only did few merchants accept bitcoin as a medium of exchange, but without access to the now ubiquitous fiat off-ramps, you had to source a buyer willing to exchange fiat for digital. That entailed a degree of risk since peer-to-peer marketplaces that protected users with an escrow system didn’t exist.

What a difference a couple of years makes. These days it’s easy to use bitcoin and ether to buy goods and services online, in the metaverse, and in the meatspace, with payment gateways handling conversion at the point of sale. The spender authorizes the transaction while the processor converts their crypto into fiat in real time, de-risking the transaction for merchants sceptical of accepting volatile virtual currencies. Everyone’s a winner.

Debit Card Meets Digital Value

Of all the infrastructure put in place since the emergence of the digital asset sector, few have done as much to accelerate mainstream adoption as crypto-friendly debit cards. Payment giants Visa and Mastercard have rolled out support for cryptocurrencies on their vast networks, giving users access to their crypto portfolios and the ability to quickly and cheaply convert them into traditional currencies for spending purposes.

This is not a globally acceptable solution as many countries take a hard line stance against cryptocurrencies, with financial laws in place that ban citizens from buying, selling or even holding them. A crypto-fiat card, convenient as it may be, won’t be of much use in Algeria or Bolivia. But in countries where Visa and Mastercard are accepted, your purchase power is assured.

Explaining its shifting attitude towards the digital economy earlier this year, Mastercard wrote that it “isn’t here to recommend you start using cryptocurrencies. But we are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value, traditional or crypto, however they want. It should be your choice, it’s your money.”

Mastercard’s growing crypto partner network now includes wallet application Wirex, bitcoin payment service provider BitPay, digital asset manager Bakkt, and FDIC-insured mobile banking application LVL. Last week, the company announced that it was also joining forces with five startups to “solve global blockchain challenges” as part of its Start Path Crypto accelerator program.

As well as LVL, the companies participating in the program include smart-contract builder Ava Labs, AI-centric mobile banking app Envel, peer-to-peer savings platform Kash, and crypto rewards platform NiftyKey. Three more leading cryptocurrency service providers in the Asia Pacific region, Amber, Bitkub and CoinJar, will soon be launching crypto-funded Mastercard payment cards.

Visa has embraced digital assets with an equal fervour, having teamed up with over 60 crypto platforms including Circle, BlockFi, Coinbase, FTX and Anchorage. The firm even launched its own Global Crypto Advisory Practice last year, pitched at financial institutions keen to win or retain customers by expanding their services to include digital currencies, stablecoins, and NFTs.

Much of Visa’s crypto business has been conducted in concert with payments startup Simplex, which specializes in providing users with on and off-ramp capabilities via both credit and debit cards. Simplex was this year acquired by Canadian payments processor Nuvei in a deal worth $250 million, and Nuvei is in turn rolling out branded Visa cards to its partners throughout Europe. There clearly are many different entities responsible for giving crypto more purchase power.

By enabling millions of consumers around the world to spend digital assets with a swipe of the card or smartphone, two non-crypto native firms have struck a surprising blow to the hegemony of traditional financial institutions when it comes to payments. The dominance of traditional players in the payment space has been waning for some time as innovative forms of digital payment have emerged. Square’s Cash App boasts over 40 million monthly active users and digital wallets like Venmo, Revolut, and Wirex have also built large international user bases.

Banks No Longer Payment Kings

Many alternative payment platforms continue to allow users to fund their accounts through connecting their bank accounts. Crypto-friendly debit cards, for example, often display a fiat balance and crypto balance with account-holders able to shift funds accordingly and spend either fiat or crypto at the point of sale. In the future banks could be frozen out altogether. Stablecoins, a digital asset whose value is pegged 1:1 with the US dollar are now being supported on cards. 

Like other cryptocurrencies, stablecoins can be spent like cash anywhere Visa and Mastercard is accepted with cards such as the one offered by crypto platform Voyager Digital, which supports the USDC stablecoin. If many crypto users are only interacting with the legacy fiat system because of its supposed stability, they could turn their banks on fiat entirely by using assets like USDC and USDT as a kind of proxy fiat.

There is another benefit of stabelcoins as cryptoassets like bitcoin often come with a capital gain tax burden, when converted into cash and spent. Stablecoins are better suited to being a medium of exchange.

The debit cards offered by major crypto-native platforms such as Coinbase and Crypto.com, all in partnership with Visa, allow users to spend their trading profits (including those made from selling NFTs) and earn perks such as cashback to inspire loyalty. Crypto.com’s rewards also include free Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime and unlimited airport lounge access, with support for around 90 digital assets.

Visa’s various industry partnerships meant that over $1 billion was spent on their crypto-friendly cards in the first half of 2021 alone. While that is a drop in the ocean to a company whose payment volume totalled $8.8 trillion last year, the number is only going up.

“One thing that continues to put people off entering the space is the perceived difficulty of spending cryptocurrencies,” notes Shahaf Bar-Geffen, the CEO of fintech platform COTI, “Banks are slow to adopt which causes issues, so a debit card that’s connected directly to your crypto wallet, and accepted almost anywhere, is probably one of the easiest solutions to a crucial adoption problem.”

Unlike many crypto platforms, COTI is built especially for payments. Its flagship COTI Pay product can process all payment types natively, both online and off, including crypto and stablecoins, credit cards, and even a merchant’s native coin. That said, it too has partnered with Simplex (and by extension, Visa) for its debit cards.

It’s fair to say that crypto-friendly debit cards can offer greater functionality than their fiat equivalents, which for the most part operate solely as payment cards. As well as cashback, they often come with referral bonuses, rebates on different services and even in some cases, lines of credit. The latter feature is offered by wallet maker Ledger’s new Crypto Life card, which allows holders to obtain credit by using cryptocurrency as collateral. While such a thing is common in the burgeoning decentralized finance space, it’s the first time such infrastructure has been available via a card.

The aptly named Crypto Life card will be available to customers in the U.K., France and Germany in the first quarter of 2022, and for US customers in the second quarter, with Ledger Chief Experience Officer Ian Rogers stating that it represents “a step toward replacing traditional bank accounts.”

The gap between traditional finance and crypto is closing, and this can only be a good thing for consumers looking to get more bang for their bitcoin. The crypto debit card landscape is already crowded with competitors, expect the perks to get juicier and the number of supported digital assets to increase in the coming year.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I cover fintech, crypto and digital assets, and sustainable finance and investments, and promote policies for a transparent, secure, and quality digital financial future for everyone.

Source: Crypto Cards Are Giving Bitcoin Purchase Power

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The Sweet Spot: Paul Bloom Explains Why a Good Life is Painful

Psychologist Paul Bloom on the importance of suffering, the shortcomings of hedonism, and why he would never plug into the Matrix. Can we live a good life without suffering?

Notice that I used the word “good” and not “happy.” It doesn’t make any sense to ask whether we can suffer and be happy at the same time, but can we live a full and meaningful life without certain kinds of suffering? That’s a much harder question.

I just watched an episode of The Twilight Zone that explores this in a way only that show could. It’s about a gangster who dies and wakes up in a place that has all the markings of heaven — or at least what a guy like that would imagine as heaven. He has all the sex and money and power he wants. He loves it at first. But then he grows bored and aimless and starts to hate it. So he asks his guide if he can go to hell instead, and that’s when he learns he’s already there.

A new book by the psychologist Paul Bloom, called The Sweet Spot, says this story captures the strangeness of human psychology about as well as anything can. It’s a deep dive into the relationship between suffering and meaning, and why living a purposeful life means caring about much more than happiness.

The book isn’t pro-suffering, and Bloom is very careful to distinguish “chosen” suffering from “unchosen” suffering, but it is an attempt to explain why we sometimes seek out hardship and struggle, and why the conventional image of humans as purely pleasure-seeking and pain-avoiding isn’t so much wrong as incomplete.

I reached out to Bloom for the latest episode of Vox Conversations. We talk about the role of suffering in human life, the shortcomings of hedonism, and why he would never plug into the Matrix.

Sean Illing

Hedonism seems like a pretty straightforward path to happiness. If you offered people a chance to not have to work or do anything for money again and told them that they could live in a big house on a great beach with a grand pool and just swim and sunbathe all day, I feel like a lot of people would say, “Hell, yes.”

So what’s wrong with that?

Paul Bloom

A hedonist, and I know a few of them, might say, “Well, maybe they’ll regret a little bit at a time, but if they’re having fun 95 percent of the time and there’s regret 5 percent of the time, they made the right life decision.” And there’s a big debate in psychology over what we should try to maximize. Hedonists say you should try to maximize your day-to-day moments of pleasure, while the rest of us say that you should try to maximize other things as well, including your satisfaction with your life.

So there are lots of ways to answer this question. But my favorite way to think about this, and I know you’re going to be familiar with this, is a famous thought experiment by the philosopher Robert Nozick, who imagines an experience machine, which now everyone knows as the Matrix. They plug you in, and you’re in paradise.

You have immediately lost your memory that you’re plugged in. So, you think you’re living your real life, but you are living a life of immense satisfaction, and challenge, and accomplishment, and carnal joy, and deep respect and everything; the best life possible.

But you’re on a table hooked up to some wires, and that’s you for the rest of your life. And then the question is, would you want to be strapped into the machine? And I’ve asked a lot of people this question in teaching moral psych courses and so on. Some people rank pleasure pretty highly and say, “Yeah, sure. Strap me in.” And certainly if I was in a prison or something, or had a sort of desperate situation, I’d much rather this life of pure pleasure than the life I’m living.

A lot of people say no, however, including Nozick, and me, and maybe you. Because I don’t just want to have experiences, I want to do things. Because I have people I love who I want to be with, and I want to take care of them, not just think I’m with them and take care of them. I’d be abandoning all sorts of friends and family. And yes, while I’m in the machine, I won’t know I’m abandoning them, but I’m abandoning them nonetheless, and that’s wrong. And so, all sorts of other non-hedonistic motivations lead me to say, “I’m going to take my real life.”

Sean Illing

Words like “happiness” and “satisfaction” and “pleasurable” get used interchangeably, but there are important differences here. How do you make these sorts of distinctions?

Paul Bloom

The vocabulary here is dreadful. People use the terms in different ways. And then they appear to be agreeing when they aren’t and disagreeing when they are. It causes a mess.

So, happiness as I see it has at least two meanings. One meaning is close to day-to-day pleasure. Experiments have been done: I give you an iPhone, it beeps at random times, whenever it beeps, you say how happy you are. And then we just take it, and we count it from one to 10, say, and we average it. And I say, “Your life, you’re at 7.8.”

But another sense of happiness is, I sit you down, I say, “Well, how good’s your life going? How happy are you? How’s it going for you?” Give you a scale from one to 10. Now, the numbers tend to correlate. So, maybe you say eight and a half, or seven, or something close, and they don’t tend to diverge that much, but they do diverge.

There are people who live lives of happiness where they’re really having a lot of fun, but they think they’re just living a crap life and they’re full of regret. And other people, and I met more of these, think they’re living a really terrific life.

Imagine somebody with a lot of kids, and a stressful job, and they’re doing a lot of community work, and they have complicated relationships, and they say, “I’m overwhelmed. I have headaches all the time. There’s so much strife, so much struggle. I’m worried about people. And so on.” I ask, “How’s your life?” They say, “My life is wonderful.”

And so the question is, what do you want to maximize? Call them two types of happiness, or call one of them pleasure and another one satisfaction. And I would claim that we want to maximize both. Give me the choice; nobody is indifferent to pleasure, and nobody should be, that seems like madness, but we also want to maximize satisfaction, and we take it as very important.

Sean Illing

Do you think most people are confused about what makes them happy?

Paul Bloom

As a psychologist, I feel I’m supposed to say yes because that’s one of the credos, people don’t know what makes them happy. Psychologists used to believe very strongly that money doesn’t make you happy. And then we would laugh at all the people who thought money makes you happy. And now it turns out that, maybe not surprisingly, money does make you happy.

The more money you make, the happier people are, and you give people money, they become happier. You take away their money, they become less happy because money buys things like food and security and safety and housing and travel and stuff like that.

I think to some extent people are mistaken, and I’ll give you the sort of classic examples, which is we tend to overstate the value of certain possessions. They do make us happy, but we quickly burn out. And we tend to underestimate experiences and relationships.

Sometimes I go to open houses and look at really cool houses, and sometimes I’m going to fantasize about living in one of those houses. And honestly, when my kids were pretty young, I would have a recurring fantasy of living in some sort of penthouse apartment in New York.

But the truth is that’s not the kind of thing that makes a person happy. They sit in this beautiful penthouse and then they want a friend to share it with, they want people to hang out with. I think the one thing people miss is, from both a happiness point of view and also a purpose, meaning, point of view, the power of the right social connections.

Sean Illing

The decision to have kids is such an interesting phenomenon. As you point out, having kids diminishes our day-to-day happiness, reduces marital satisfaction, and that stuff doesn’t really go away until the kids are out of the house. To just ask, “Why are we having kids?” seems dumb because the answer is obviously continuing the species. But on an individual psychological level, why do so many of us actively sign up for so much unhappiness?

Paul Bloom

Yeah, I think it’s a really good question. Having kids for me is kind of a case study through which to explore what people want. And I know a lot of people who don’t have kids and live rich and fulfilling lives. There’s no way this conversation ends with me saying it’s a no-brainer. Maybe some people’s lives would be a lot better if they didn’t.

But the thing about kids, the original studies showed that kids were just a killer, happiness-wise, a lot less pleasure for parents and for non-parents. As always with psychology, later studies find it’s more complicated.

It turns out that a lot of factors determine your happiness. Men tend to be happier being dads than women being moms. Older people tend to be happier than younger people. Single parents have it pretty rough. And there’s an enormous country difference.

All of the original data was done in the United States, and then there was a study that came out looking at 42 countries, and it turns out that the happiness hit for parents is worse in the US than in any other country, probably because of child care issues. But to some extent, your question still remains.

Nobody doubts it’s tough. From a strictly hedonic point of view, spending years with young children is not what you would choose. And yet we do choose it. And we don’t regret it, for the most part. And so the question is why, and I think the answer is that children are not predominantly a hedonic choice. They’re not a pleasure-increasing mechanism.

People choose to have children, and then love their children, and love what they’ve done. Maybe because it gave meaning and purpose to their life. Maybe because they love their children and once you love somebody, you honestly don’t wish that they didn’t exist. And it’s complicated.

There are studies which ask people, “How happy are you?” And parents versus non-parents, the data are all over the place, but sometimes non-parents give you higher scores. Then there are other studies where somebody asks how meaningful your life is, and then it goes the other way.

After my book came out, there was a very interesting article by Erin Westgate and Shigehiro Oishi, on psychological diversity and diverse experiences, where they argue that people want some degree of variety in their life experiences. And for me, having kids introduced me to a new emotion, introduced me to a new feeling, which is intense love of a sort that’s not romantic and not towards a friend.

The feeling of parental or paternal love for me was like seeing a whole different color, and a whole different set of feelings. And again, nothing is unmixed. I quote Zadie Smith, who just speaks wonderfully about the horribleness of having kids, and the horrible risk of having kids.

Sean Illing

Right, because you might lose them. And you just mentioned romantic love, but that seems to me a similar puzzle with a similar answer. The happiness arithmetic there doesn’t really add up either, since loving another person romantically requires total vulnerability and the absolute guarantee of loss and real pain, but we do it anyway because we can’t help it, but also because the peak is unintelligible without the valley. To experience that kind of joy is to risk that kind of suffering.

Paul Bloom

That’s right. And, Zadie Smith again, she quotes a condolence letter, which had the line, “it hurts as much as it’s worth.” And that’s the logic of it. The comedian Louis C.K. has a bit on this, where he talks about romance and falling in love and everything. And he points out that the very best case is that you’ll spend an enormous amount of time with each other, and one of you will die leaving the other one bereft. That’s the best case.


To hear the rest of the conversation, click here

Sean Illing

Sean Illing is the Interviews Writer for Vox and the host of the Vox Conversations podcast. Before publishing things on the Internet, he taught politics and philosophy at a university. Before that, he served in the United States Air Force.

Source: The Sweet Spot: Paul Bloom explains why a good life is painful – Vox

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European Electric Car Sales Growth Will Slow Before Spurting, While China Lurks

Sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are exploding in Western Europe, but growth will slow over the next couple of years, restrained by the semiconductor shortage, and actions by manufacturers who will seek to push demand for internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles before European Union regulations destroys ICE profitability.

Tesla TSLA +1.6% will retain its lead in BEV sales and profitability and only the best of traditional manufacturers like VW and Mercedes look like posing a serious challenge.

Meanwhile, Chinese carmakers, which tried and failed to penetrate Europe markets with traditional ICE cars, look like being much more of a threat with electric ones.

In Western Europe, BEVs are now linked with big numbers. Recently, sales passed one million in the year, while Germany recently announced there were now 1 million BEVs on its roads. BMW announced in early December it had sold its 1 millionth electric vehicle and plans to reach 2 million by 2025.

Western Europe includes the big markets of Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain.

BEV sales more than doubled in 2020 to just under 750,000 and jumped again this year with sales of 1,143,000, according to Schmidt Automotive Research, representing a market share of 10.3%. The pace of growth will slow though with market share rising to 12.0% in 2022, 13e.0% in 2023 and 15.0% in 2024, before jumping 5 points to 20.0% in 2025 and an estimated total of 2,860,000.

Fitch Ratings warns that even though the number of available electric cars and SUVs is increasing and battery technology is improving, range anxiety is still an issue, and a slow expansion of the charging infrastructure could impede a major step-up in EV sales.

In addition, EV profitability does not yet match that of ICE vehicles and (manufacturers) earnings and cash flows will remain burdened by further heavy technology investments over the next several years,” Fitch Ratings said in a report.

“Margin dilution from a higher share of EVs has been manageable for carmakers as government subsidies enticed EV buyers, but a gradual removal of the incentives could weigh on profitability in the medium term, diluting manufacturers’ margins but helping them to avoid (excess CO2) fines (from the EU). We also expect greater competition for European carmakers from new entrants, notably China,” Fitch Ratings said.

According to David Leah, analyst with LMC Automotive, the number of Chinese electric models in Europe has more than doubled over five years and government backing at home has given them a competitive advantage.

“This has allowed Chinese (manufacturers) to develop more competitive battery technology, as well as control large parts of the battery material chain, thus enabling them to achieve greater economies of scale. BEV prices have halved in China during the last 8 years, whilst increasing by 42%-55% in the West,” Leah said.

“As a result, Western (manufacturers) are playing catch up in the mass market BEV space, and the growing threat of new entrants has forced Western companies to reassess their competitiveness as competition intensifies,” Leah said.

Prospects for BEV sales won’t have been helped by news Wednesday one of the biggest selling electric cars in Europe, the Renault Zoe, was awarded zero stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings, and the Dacia Spring only 1 star. Dacia is Renault’s value brand which uses mainly old technology to cut prices to the bone. Most modern vehicles score 5 stars in these tests.

Investment bank UBS expects strong global BEV sales, with Tesla remaining the undisputed leader.

“In 2021, Tesla has gapped away further from all others in terms of volume growth and margins, and Tesla’s lead should be undisputed in 2022 as battery cell supply could emerge as the next bottleneck for the industry,” UBS analyst Patrick Hummel said in a report.

“We expect global BEV sales to grow by about 60% again in 2022, reaching 7 million or 8% share globally. Only the fastest moving (traditional manufacturers) can avoid further bleeding to Tesla, such as Mercedes-Benz and VW Group. As BEV demand will likely continue to exceed supply, BEV pricing will be very solid and therefore margin parity vs. ICE cars reached over the next 1-2 years,” Hummel said.

And Schmidt Automotive Research said the slowing in BEV market share to 2024 is the result of manufacturers seeing a window to push profitable ICE vehicle sales before EU regulations on CO2 tighten. More regulation in 2027 will have a similar impact before BEV demand wins again, as ICE profit margins disintegrate.

Schmidt Automotive reckons BEV sales will gradually accelerate again and reach a market share of 60.0% by 2030, or 8.4 million vehicles.  VW has said its European BEV sales will hit 70% by 2030 while Ford Europe and Jaguar have set a 100% target.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

As a former European Automotive correspondent for Reuters, I’ve a spent a few years writing about the industry. I will penetrate the corporate

Source: European Electric Car Sales Growth Will Slow Before Spurting, While China Lurks

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