The early market for electric vehicles is proving that demand for the vehicles exists across the globe. The combination of consumer purchase incentives, rising fossil fuel costs, and exciting new vehicle models is fueling a strong early adopter market. Production of electrified vehicles is gearing up all over the world, and automakers are planning to launch an increasing variety of new models over the next few years. In recent weeks new electric models have been officially launched, after months of advance publicity, by both Chevrolet (Spark EV) and Honda (Fit EV). Automakers around the world will introduce dozens of new models over the next few years, fueling consumer interest and increasing sales of electric vehicles as a percentage of total auto sales.
According to a recent report from Pike Research, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) combined will represent 3.1% of worldwide auto sales by 2017. Thanks to higher penetration rates in the United States, HEVs and PEVs will account for 5.1% of total U.S. vehicle sales in 2017.
"The PEV market is anticipated to miss many of the targets set by governments because vehicle programs have not been launching as rapidly as expected even a year ago," says senior analyst Dave Hurst. "Those targets aside, though, the EV market will grow at a rapid clip in the next six years -- at a rate of nearly 20% a year, compared to fewer than 4% for the worldwide market for vehicles of all kinds."
Overall, the Asia Pacific region is expected to experience the most rapid growth in the number of plug-in electric models, followed by Europe and North America. There will be 26 models of PEVs available in Asia Pacific by the end of 2011, compared to 23 models in Europe and ten in North America. However, strong demand for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) in North America will lead to the availability of 40 models by the end of 2012, versus 14 HEV models in Asia Pacific.
Within the United States, the PEV market is currently led by two key models, the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. However, Pike Research anticipates that Ford's model diversification and recharging equipment strategy will shake up the market. Ford will likely take the market lead by 2017 with 23.6% PEV market share. Toyota (with a plug-in version of its popular Prius) and General Motors will likely find themselves fighting for second with 21.1% and 20.7% market share, respectively. Interestingly, startup Tesla's dealer strategy and high price point are expected to limit its market access. Still, Pike Research expects market share for the startup to grow to 4.6% by 2017 from 2.2% in 2011.