A new study concludes that 16 percent of new light-duty passenger vehicles sold in the U.S., China, and the European Union in 2020 will have to be plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs) to meet their strict fuel economy standards.

The study by the World Energy Council (WEC) concludes selling more fuel-efficient gas engine vehicles won’t be enough to meet emissions-reduction targets in the world’s three largest car markets. Titled “E-Mobility: Closing the Emissions Gap,” and which came out in June, the study found that mandates like California’s zero emission vehicle rules won’t meet this goal. While several countries have strict fuel economy and emissions standards, they haven’t mandated that electric cars be sold to meet them.

The study has found a gap between the fuel efficient vehicles predicted to be sold in 2020 in these three major markets with how many PEVs will be needed to fill the gap.

China will need to have the largest PEV sales volume to fill what the report calls the “EV Gap.” The WEC study said that China will need to have 5.3 million electric cars (22 percent of predicted 2020 sales) sold in the market.

The U.S. follows in percentage needed with 11 percent, or 0.9 million cars, being PEVs that year. The European Union countries will need to see 10 percent of its new car sales, or 1.4 million units, that year being PEVs to hit the fuel economy and emissions targets.

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Like other studies have found, WEC concluded that lifecycle costs and range anxiety have to be addressed to bridge the gap.

However, significantly increasing electric-car sales will not be easy, as electric-car adoption is still hampered by consumer concern over cost and range anxiety, the study notes. Generous incentive programs will need to be part of it.

WEC also recommended that electric utilities will need to gear up to serve the increased energy demand. If new vehicle sales come up to one-in-six by 2020, increased demand will go way beyond the 0.5 percent of total electricity consumed by PEVs in the three markets included in the study.

By 2020, China will have to take the lead by adding 26.2 terawatt hours to meet the demand. Next up will be the U.S. adding 4.5 TWh, and the EU increasing it to 3.7 more TWh.

Christian Science Monitor