The economic recession and low gas prices recently have taken their toll on consumer interest in fuel-efficient alternative power cars. But that’s about to turn around according to research firm J.D. Power.
In a new report, J.D. Power analysts said that global sales of electric-drive cars are expected to reach 940,000 units this year compared with 732,000 units last year, with the number jumping beyond 3 million in 2015. Despite the growth, that would represent a modest 3.4 percent of global light-vehicle sales. According to the firm, conventional hybrids—rather than plug-in cars—are forecast to make up the vast majority of the sales.
Hybrids in U.S. and EVs in China
The big shift will happen with conventional hybrids in the United States and electric cars in China, according to the report. J.D. Power also said it expected the U.S. to account for 55 percent of the hybrid market by 2015—meaning conventional hybrid sales in the U.S. would grow from less than 300,000 in 2009, to around 1.4 million by 2015. In the United States, that could account for close to 10 percent of the total U.S. market.
Meanwhile, nearly half of the projected 500,000 sales of plug-in cars by 2015 will happen in China. J.D. Power believes that hybrids will be more popular than plug-in cars due to higher cost and limited driving range. (Obviously, this point is up for debate.)
Green Cars and the Real Cost of Gasoline
It’s hard to make accurate and specific forecasts in the green car market—especially between the various emerging electric-drive technologies—but the larger trends are clear. “Concerns about the cost and environmental effect of gasoline, rising worries and energy security in many countries, and the improving performance of alternative fuel vehicles are resulting in rising sales of gas/electric, hybrid, plug-in and battery powered cars worldwide,” the J.D. Power report said.
Evidence of the predicted trend has not yet emerged in the U.S. marketplace. According to Ward’s Auto, U.S. sales of vehicles rated about 30 mpg dropped by 10 percent for the first five months of 2010, compared to the same period in 2009. Sales of the (conventional) Honda Fit fell by 20 percent; Toyota Camry Hybrid dropped 40 percent; and Honda Civic Hybrid sales plummeted by 77 percent.
The J.D. Power report was released as a “Guest Opinion” by financial rating company Standard & Poor’s, and was reported on the website Triple Pundit, among others.