To solve the problems of fuel economy and vehicle emissions automakers around the globe have been encouraged to turn to electric vehicles. In the U.S. the Department of Transportation has bet millions of dollars in taxpayer loans and grants that there will be one million electric cars on American roads by 2015. At the current sales pace this is an unattainable target.
U.S. drivers, conscious of the price of gas and the added cost to buy an electric vehicle, have not flocked to dealer showrooms. Sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) like the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius are showing some promise. Customers, on the other hand, are shying away from plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) like the Nissan Leaf. Pike Research estimates that the actual number of sales of PEVs will only be 410K by 2015 or more than half the government’s projection. It may be 2018 before the 1M goal is achieved.
Outside of the U.S., however, the story is different. PEVs could be selling at an annual rate of 1 million units by 2017 and reach 1.7 million in annual sales by 2020.
Much of this growth is fueled by government incentives and mandates. Automakers remain cautious.