What is it about?

Business model architectures in the car industry are gaining increased attention from scientists and policymakers. Although scientific studies have been conducted to address the pressures faced by future business models to change, no research has examined the bibliometric variables in this area. This study aims to fill the gap by conducting a bibliometric analysis of 104 articles on business models for electric cars. The analysis showed that the literature on business models for electric cars is exhaustive, and it focuses on business model decisions for charging technologies, driver services, electricity management, commercial contracts, and plant. China, the United States of America, and Germany have conducted the maximum number of studies on the aforementioned theme. The topic dendrogram identified two evolving strands of discussions innovative technologies and resource optimization and electricity management systems and product life cycle. These findings can guide the formulation of environmentally sustainable policies for electric car manufacturing and help car manufacturers to restructure their models.

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Why is it important?

The automotive industry is stepping into a new era with electric cars. They have returned to the market in response to the need for mitigating increased carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) resulting from transportation (Kley et al., 2011a,b). Increased environmental awareness has prompted leading car manufacturers to produce hybrid and electric cars to replace the previous internal combustion engines. Nowadays, the economic sustainability of electric vehicles depends on their business models. Therefore, scientific research on and subsequent large-scale application of these business models are critical to influencing electric car purchase decisions. Over time, there have been several definitions of business models. Chesbrough (2010) and Osterwalder et al. (2005) define it as means of how companies create value through their products and services and how they deliver and capture it. Other definitions consider business models as a representation of how a company operates (Magretta, 2002); Teece (2010) defines them as the organizational and financial architecture of a business. Matzen et al. (2005) focus on how business models can increase consumer benefits through more innovative offers. Recently, the business models of companies are focusing on sustainability (Czinkota et al., 2018). In this regard, Nielsen and Morten (2015) define a business model as a sustainable way of doing business. In the car industry, these business models are facing pressure to change, and these challenges have captured the attention of scientists and policymakers (Wells, 2015). The aforementioned studies and case studies have explained empirical evidence associated with the business models of electric cars. However, as stated by Casadesus-Masanell and Ricart (2011), ‘The success or failure of a company’s business model depends largely on how it interacts with models of other players in the industry’. However, the aforementioned studies have not examined the bibliometric variables, based on the context set by Casadesus- Masanell and Ricart (2011).


Concerning future research, we believe that an analysis of the break-even point between the use of electric cars and traditional cars at a scientific level can further develop this topic and indirectly contribute towards the management of business models, thereby benefitting managers and policymakers. We also believe that future research may focus on impact and sensitivity analyses of electric car contracts. Besides, further case studies could investigate how business model related to electric cars affect population-intensive countries. This can be particularly interesting for all the institutions working in highly populous countries as China. Furthermore, only 10% of the results were considered to analyse the application of business models for electric vehicles. A higher identification of cases can be useful to identify the endogenous and exogenous variables of countries and their way of influencing purchasing choices, laws, procurement systems, technologies, and market type. Additionally, further analysis could also identify why some parts of the world did not conduct studies in this area. It would be useful to conduct a comparative analysis between countries active in this field of research and countries that are not currently involved. This would make it possible to identify variables affecting the presence or absence of electric cars. In conclusion, there is currently a lack of specific analyses on procurement policies, management and policies pertaining to the vertical and horizontal integration of companies, and sales and marketing initiatives for electric cars. Research in this direction can further increase the comprehensiveness of the topic.

Davide Calandra
Universita degli Studi di Torino

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This page is a summary of: Employing bibliometric analysis to identify suitable business models for electric cars, Journal of Cleaner Production, August 2020, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.121503.
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