Electric Vehicles: 10 Predictions for 2011

Crystal Ball Trance

The electric car will get its revenge in 2011 as many of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers will begin selling thousands of plug-in electric vehicles to consumers for the first time. The PEVs and charging infrastructure got off to a slower than anticipated start in 2010 as only a few of the vehicles were delivered at the end of December, so 2011 will be a year to make up for lost time.

What should we expect for electrics, hybrids and other green car technologies in 2011 and beyond? Pike Research, in cooperation with PluginCars.com and HybridCars.com, has identified 10 key trends that will steer the course of EVs for the rest of the decade. See these quick excerpts from the first five of our detailed white paper.

  1. The majority of people who drive a plug-in vehicle won’t own it.

    Thanks to car rental fleets, taxis, and car share programs, getting people into plug-in vehicles will be more influential in the long run than getting them to sign on the dotted line.

  2. Automakers will get push back from EV owners about how long it takes vehicles to fully charge.

    Most vehicle charging will be done overnight, enabling owners to wake up to a fully charged battery without concern for the rate at which it was charged. But because automakers decided to take the cautious (and less expensive) approach of installing onboard charging equipment that provides a maximum of 3.3 kW to the batteries, a full charge will take longer than necessary leaving some consumers feeling like they overpaid for charging equipment.

  3. The most popular selling EVs won’t have four wheels.

    Electric two-wheeled vehicles, including bicycles, scooters and motorcycles are a huge global market that will continue to overshadow electric passenger vehicles for the foreseeable future. China is by far the largest market, with more than 48 million sales projected. In North America, the sale of two-wheeled EVs will outnumber passenger PEVs by approximately 8:1 in 2011, but the gap will be narrowed to close to 2 to 1 by 2015 as passenger vehicles sales will grow much more quickly.

  4. Many EV charging stations will spend the majority of their time idle.

    The strategy of installing a network of charging equipment may be good psychologically for EV owners and the automakers, but the business benefit for the owners of charging equipment will be lacking during the early days of EV sales. During 2011 and 2012 there will not be sufficient penetration of EVs for charging spots to see many visits–if any—per day.

  5. Somebody somewhere will have a bad EV experience and the media will overreact.

    The first time a driver is left “stranded” by running out of charge will be cause célèbre for the doubters to highlight the superiority of gas cars. The potential also exists for EV owner frustration if the promised all-electric driving range advertised is not realized. Heavy-footed drivers and trips taken in extreme weather will substantially cut into driving efficiency, but that should not be a surprise or especially noteworthy.

  6. For the other five predictions and more details, including market forecasts, download the complete white paper, published in cooperation with PluginCars.com and HybridCars.com.