The North American electric car market is booming, with current sales figures outpacing predictions.
In the 2009 Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Report, Frost & Sullivan forecast the HEV market volume would reach 1.1 million units in 2015. In actual fact, U.S. sales have surpassed two million units as of October 2013, with cumulative sales of all forms of hybrids surpassing three million units.
However, Frost & Sullivan did note in the report that, given the May 2009 sudden acceleration of the CAFE mpg targets and timing (not to mention the first-time regulation of automotive carbon dioxide emissions), its HEV forecast could be conservative.
The HEV market is expected to easily outgrow the overall light vehicle market, thanks to powerful drivers such as strict government regulations and rising gasoline prices. Most OEMs selling in the U.S. market and subject to the stiff CAFE mpg targets have plans to roll out more HEVs as part of the solution. Many other fuel-saving strategies will be pursued in parallel with HEVs. These include micro start-stop, mild and full hybrids, all with gasoline engines. Diesel-electric hybrids are expected to appear only in medium-heavy highway vehicles.
Apart from Ford, the remaining U.S. domestic manufacturers have yet to make much headway against Toyota Motor Co., whose Prius range accounts for more than half the market. Globally Toyota sold five million hybrids by March of 2013.
New lithium-ion batteries and the end of socket recharging are helping to make HEVs more attractive. The emphasis now is on “wireless recharging.” The driver parks over a recharging plate in the ground that provides power through magnetic induction to a matching plate under the car. Buses in some Italian cities use this technique. Meanwhile, a U.S. startup business, WiTricity, has patented a new way to wirelessly transfer energy in much larger amounts and over greater distances through magnetic induction. However, this is still experimental.
In its recent update to its 2012 geographic breakdown of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales in North America, Navigant Research now forecasts that overall sales will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.6% between 2013 and 2022. Navigant Research forecasts that PEVs will reach 416,153 annual sales in the United States and 230,479 in Canada by 2022.
The model for North American PEV sales by U.S. state, metropolitan statistical area (MSA), Canadian province, Canadian city, and selected U.S. utility service area has been updated to better align with actual sales data from the first full year of wide availability of PEVs.
Based on the new model, Navigant forecasts that California, New York, Washington, and Florida will likely lead the way with 815,280; 142,430; 105,033; and 102,517 cumulative PEV sales between 2013 and 2022, respectively.
The top five MSAs for total PEV sales over the forecast period are forecast to be Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Sacramento, and Riverside (California). These five MSAs will account for nearly one-third of U.S. PEV sales by 2022 (112,587 sales, or 27.1% of total U.S. PEV sales).
The combination of a large population area, early rollout schedules from vehicle manufacturers, and positive attitudes toward PEVs for these MSAs will result in strong CAGRs for PEV sales of up to 20% between 2013 and 2022.
In Canada, the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia (which account for 75% of the Canadian population) will account for 97% of Canadian PEV sales by 2022. The cities of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver will lead Canadian PEV sales.
The report segments sales forecasts by state, metropolitan statistical area (MSA), and utility service territory in the United States, and by province and the nine largest cities in Canada. The forecasts were created by analyzing OEM vehicle rollout schedules, population and demographic trends in comparison to early PEV and hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) owner demographic profiles, and attitudes toward electric vehicles.
The top U.S. regions with positive consumer attitudes toward PEVs (1.0 represents the national average) are:
• Northern California: 3.79 • New Jersey: 3.14
• Vermont: 2.96 • Texas: 2.63 • Southern California: 2.53
The top Canadian provinces with positive consumer demographics and population for PEV adoption (1.0 represents the national average) are:
• Ontario: 5.92 • Quebec: 3.95 • British Columbia: 2.22
(The forecast model for Canada is based on data similar to that used for the United States, with the exception of the PEV attitudes, for which there is not enough quantitative data to provide numeric indexes. Data for Canada is based more heavily on demographic, economic, and population data.)
The company also expects, despite the challenges of new technology, that plug-in electric vehicles will grow rapidly in many regions as a result of rising fuel prices, falling PEV prices, and increasing availability of PEV models. The result is a PEV market that will reach three million vehicles sold in 2020, representing 3% of the global light-duty vehicle market.
In addition to expecting increasing availability of plug-in models, key assumptions in the updated Navigant forecast include:
• Current government incentives offered worldwide will remain in place throughout the forecast period, but are unlikely to be increased.
• Stronger regulations on fuel economy and emissions will encourage manufacturers to continue to further develop PHEV and BEV products.
• Battery packs, which can account for as much as half of PEV costs, are expected to decrease during the forecast period. HEVs and PHEVs are anticipated to see a 10% and 26% decline in pack costs by 2020, respectively, while BEVs will likely remain flat, but see improvements in vehicle range and performance during that period.
• The prices of petroleum-based fuels are anticipated to continue to climb throughout the forecast period. Based on a rolling average of historic prices, global gasoline and diesel prices are anticipated to increase at 7.2% and 8.3% compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) between 2013 and 2020.
• Sales of light-duty vehicles overall have suffered during the economic downturn in recent years. While North America and Asia Pacific are projected to continue to rebound in 2013 and 2014, the rebound in Western and Eastern Europe is not expected to be as robust. The result is a global light-duty vehicle market that will grow at a CAGR of 2.4% between 2013 and 2020.
Navigant Research forecasts global CAGRs of 11.5% for HEVs, 31.9% for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), and 31.5% for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). Among the specific projections:
Asia Pacific and North America will be the largest markets for HEVs, with Japan and the United States being the largest singular markets (1.1 million and 1 million HEV sales in 2020, respectively).
North America is the only market anticipated to have significantly higher sales of PHEVs than BEVs (a 1.5:1 sales ratio); Western Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America will be almost evenly split between the drivetrains.
Asia Pacific is projected to be the largest market for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), with 1.6 million PHEV and BEV sales combined in 2020.
Navigant expects Japan to be the leading market for PEV sales in 2020, with nearly 900,000 vehicles sold that year.
All in all, the technological leaps made over the past few years show a great deal of promise, but the global HEV revolution still has a way to go.