Electrification Shifts the Market Towards AWD Prevalence

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Electrification Shifts the Market Towards AWD Prevalence

The electric vehicle (EV) market has seen a significant shift towards all-wheel-drive (AWD) configurations, leaving front-wheel-drive (FWD) and rear-wheel-drive (RWD) models less common.

Initially, from 2010 to 2013, the market was dominated by single-motor FWD and RWD EVs. This trend began to change in 2014 when Tesla introduced its first dual-motor AWD Model S (85D). By 2015, Tesla had expanded its dual-motor offerings to include several models, making up about a quarter of all EVs available at the time. The launch of the Model X in 2016 further increased the availability of AWD options, doubling Tesla’s AWD lineup.

The electric vehicle (EV) market witnessed the arrival of the all-wheel-drive (AWD) Tesla Model 3 in 2018, followed by the debut of the first non-Tesla AWD EVs, the Audi e-tron SUV and Jaguar I-Pace, in 2019. By then, AWD models represented about half of all EV configurations, signaling a significant trend towards AWD dominance, initially led by premium and high-performance vehicles before extending into mainstream models.

By the 2023 model year, the EV industry introduced tri-motor AWD options, like the Audi e-tron S with its innovative setup of one front and two rear motors. Rivian pushed the envelope further with its quad-motor AWD system in the R1T and R1S models, featuring individual motors for each wheel. These advancements not only enhance traction and performance but also offer advantages in regenerative braking through more precise torque vectoring.

However, these benefits come at a cost, including increased complexity, higher expenses, and added weight, which slightly compromises efficiency. Single-motor models still lead in energy consumption efficiency due to these factors. Additionally, integrating two independent motors at the front poses challenges due to the steering axle.

Despite these drawbacks, dual-motor AWD systems remain a popular and relatively cost-effective solution for achieving AWD capabilities in EVs. They strike a balance between performance and practicality, arguably making it simpler to develop AWD EVs compared to their internal combustion counterparts.

AWD’s Rising Dominance in the 2024 EV Market

As of 2024, the electric vehicle (EV) market has expanded to over 300 unique configurations, encompassing various battery capacities, ranges, powertrain designs, and wheels. Our analysis reveals that about 75% of these options, approximately 250 configurations, feature all-wheel drive (AWD).

In contrast, front-wheel drive (FWD) configurations are significantly less common, with only around 30 available, making up less than 9% of the market. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) options are slightly more prevalent, accounting for nearly 17% of the market, with 56 configurations.

It’s important to note that the prevalence of AWD configurations doesn’t necessarily equate to 75% of EV sales being AWD vehicles, but it does indicate a clear trend towards AWD in the electrification of the car market.

The future of this trend remains to be seen, especially considering that single-motor cars typically cost less to produce. Many manufacturers are currently developing more affordable models, which may lead to a resurgence in the popularity of FWD and RWD configurations. This shift could potentially alter the sales landscape, making FWD/RWD models more popular than AWD ones in the coming years.

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