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Car market going electric

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Sales of electric cars will skyrocket in the next five years, according to a recent study conducted by Pike Research, which specializes in research in that area. But while the growth will be steep in percentage terms, electrics and alternative-propulsion vehicles will still have a very long way to go before they replace the conventional gasoline-powered car as the dominant vehicle type. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) will all share the stage as electrified vehicles continue to gain momentum. But in the overall scheme of the global car market, they will still be niche players.

According to the report, cumulative sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), the category that includes both PHEVs and BEVs, will reach 5.2 million units by 2017, up from just under 114,000 vehicles in 2011. By the same year, cumulative sales of HEVs will represent an additional 8.7 million vehicles, for a combined total of 13.9 million units in all electrified vehicle categories.

"Increasing fuel costs, government purchase incentives, increasing fuel economy standards, and increased vehicle availability will benefit all three types of electric vehicles to varying degrees," says Pike Research Senior Analyst Dave Hurst. "In the hybrid electric market, the incentives are playing less of a role as countries either eliminate incentives or offer low incentives, but a number of models in many vehicle segments equates to broader appeal in North America and growth in Europe."

While electrified vehicles will become a growing portion of total vehicle sales, they will remain relatively low in the context of the total automotive industry. The firm forecasts that PEV and HEV sales together will represent approximately 3 percent of total light-duty vehicle sales in 2017. North America will remain the largest market for electrified vehicles through the next several years, and in 2017 Pike Research predicts they will account for 4.9 percent of the total light-duty vehicle market on the continent.

The report "Electric Vehicle Market Forecasts" includes detailed predictions through 2017 for light-duty vehicle sales, as well as retail and fleet sales of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles, segmented by world region and key countries. It also provides comprehensive lists of expected vehicle launches and offers anticipated market shares for selected manufacturers.

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