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03 November 2010

Electric vehicles will accelerate after slow start

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Bloomberg New Energy Finance report says higher fuel costs will see drivers looking at alternatives

One in five US vehicles could be electric or plug-in hybrid models by 2030, according to a report issued this week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The report, published as part of Bloomberg’s Energy Smart Technologies Insight Service, said that electric vehicle sales will rise to nine per cent of cars by 2020 before accelerating to 22 per cent in 20 years. A key driver will be fuel prices, which tend to push car owners quickly towards alternatives.

However, electric vehicle sales are off to a slow start, mainly due to the pricing differential. The company said that the average vehicle price in the US between June 2009 and July 2010 was $21,800 (£13,600). Comparatively, the Nissan Leaf, due for launch this December, will cost $26,280 after government subsidies.

Battery costs, already identified by car makers as a key constraint in electric vehicles, will need to come down to help drive up sales, Bloomberg said.

Nissan’s Leaf will address a slightly wider segment of the driver market than GM’s Volt, the report said, targeting 11 per cent of drivers compared with the Chevy’s seven per cent. “However, actual sales will be much lower and limited by vehicle availability,” it said.

Global estimates were less optimistic. Analyst JD Power predicted that electric vehicles would total just 7.3 per cent of the global market in 2020. Much of their success on the world stage will depend on China, which is a potentially huge market for the vehicles.


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