A new forecast by U.S. consulting firm AlixPartners projects 49 new plug-in electrified vehicle models will come to the Chinese market in the next three years.

This will be nearly half of 103 new PEV models to eventually reach the market, according to the study.

China wants to have nearly two-thirds of global production capacity for lithium-ion batteries to meet that vehicle demand. The country is investing heavily in the technology needed for domestic-brand PEVs to continue growing.

Chinese automakers and their joint venture partners account for 96 percent of PEVs sold in that market, the study said. Automakers sold about 350,000 electric vehicles in China in 2016 – which was less than 2 percent of total new vehicle sales that year in country.

Chinese automaker BYD has been the leading PEV brand so far in the country.

The consulting firm projects that PEVs will become much more profitable – just about breaking even with internal combustion vehicle production costs by 2025. Much of that will come from lower battery costs, which will help gain more consumer acceptance in the market, AlixPartners said.

John Hoffecker, global vice chairman at AlixPartners, said China faces what other countries do in getting consumers more interested in PEVs. One important factor is reducing recharge time significantly for reaching consumers around the world.

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Hoffecker also commented on autonomous vehicles facing the same challenge that PEV manufacturer startups have been through. While about 50 companies can be counted as contestants in the race to develop autonomous vehicles, he doubts that many of them will last. Deep-pocket players like Apple and Alphabet Inc. have a better shot at competing with automakers.

“It’s impossible to believe there will be 50 successful autonomous vehicle companies,” Hoffecker said.

Business Insider