Auto Service World
News   October 8, 2021   by Adam Malik

From niche to mainstream: When electrics and hybrids will be major players

Alternative power vehicles currently make up upwards of 5 per cent of vehicle sales in the U.S. But that number is expected to jump to 45 per cent by the middle of the next decade, says a new report.

In Canada, new vehicle sale numbers of zero-emission vehicles today are similar. In the first quarter of 2021, hybrids and electrics made up 4.6 per cent of sales, up a point from the same time last year.

According to market research from the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), a large number of auto manufacturers investing in alternative options. For example, Kia announced its Sorento model would be available in electric and hybrid options. This means there will be plenty of options available for consumers.

“Eighteen of the top 20 global automakers, which together represent around 90 per cent of new car registrations worldwide in 2020, plan to widen their portfolio of alternative power models and scale up their production of electric vehicles,” SEMA said in a statement.

Kia showed off hybrid plug-ins versions of its Niro and Optima at the 2019 Canadian International Auto Show.

However, it noted that three-quarters of drivers prefer to drive gas or diesel vehicles. They also have concerns about charging infrastructure, driving range and price.

“Also, alternative power vehicles remain a niche market for the specialty-equipment industry, accounting for just 1 per cent of specialty-equipment retail sales in 2020,” SEMA noted.

In a presentation at the Mobility Innovation Conference, Brian Daugherty, chief technology officer at the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, noted the challenge of turning the number of vehicles in operation from internal combustion to battery-electric.

“So the parc is going to actually change and electrify quite slow. And as a result, ICEs will be around for a long time,” Daugherty said.

SEMA agrees. “As sales of electric and other alternative energy vehicles increase in coming years, it will take a while for current vehicles to cycle out of operation,” the group said. “The average age of a vehicle today is just over 12 years.”

However, internal combustion engines won’t rule the world forever, it acknowledged.

“Alternative power currently represents a very small share of the specialty-aftermarket sales but will be more important as their presence grows,” SEMA said.

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