Worldwide EV Sales to Reach 3.8 Million Annually by 2020

The launch of the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, in late 2010, marked the start of wider availability of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in Asia Pacific, North America, and Western Europe.

The market for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) has grown rapidly in the last two years, reaching more than 120,000 unit sales worldwide in 2012.

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which first appeared a decade earlier with the Prius, are now selling steadily in those regions as well.

According to a new report from Pike Research, titled “Electric Vehicle Market Forecasts”, annual worldwide sales of these vehicles, collectively referred to as electric vehicles (EVs), will reach 3.8 million by 2020.

The report provides forecasts, market sizing, and market share analysis for light duty hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric cars and trucks.

“Sales of EVs have not lived up to automakers’ expectations and politicians’ proclamations, but the market is expanding steadily as fuel prices remain high and consumers increasingly seek alternatives to internal combustion engines,” says senior research analyst Dave Hurst. “Indeed, sales of plug-in EVs will grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 40 percent over the remainder of the decade, while the overall auto market will expand by only two percent a year.”

The PEV sector can be split into two vehicle categories, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs). According to the report, the number of PHEVs sold in most regions is expected to be lower than BEVs, except for North America and Latin America. In these regions, the longer driving range of PHEVs is expected to prove more attractive to consumers.

In other regions, the high cost of petroleum fuels, large number of BEVs available, and dense urban areas are anticipated to contribute to higher sales of BEVs than PHEVs.

Despite political targets that are likely to be missed, the report’s assumptions point to robust growth worldwide for electric vehicles, with hybrids growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6 percent, and PEVs (combined plug-in hybrid and battery electric) growing at a CAGR of 39 percent between 2012 and 2020.

While Japan is anticipated to be the largest market for hybrids in 2020, the United States is anticipated to be the largest market for PEVs that year. However, European countries, with the combination of high gas prices and supportive government policies, are anticipated to have the highest concentrations of plug-in electric vehicles.