According to the Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center at UC Davis, global sales of PHEV’s and EV’s worldwide passed the 500,000 mark at the end of June, 2014. The US accounts for about 45% of that total, while Japan is second, China third and the Netherlands fourth in total EV sales.
Worldwide, the Nissan LEAF is the best selling model, with over 120,000 units on the road. The Chevy Volt and its European cousin, the Vauxhall Ampera, are next at 77,000 units, while the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid has recorded 60,000 sales and the unofficial count of the Tesla Model S is over 38,500 cars sold.
Within the US, the Chevy Volt is the sales leader with 63,167 of its PHEV cars on the road, but the Nissan LEAF is catching up quickly at 54,858 sales. Lately, the LEAF has been outselling the Volt on a monthly basis.
President Obama has set a goal of 1,000,000 electrics on US roads by the end of 2015, and while that goal still seems unrealistic, industry analysts expect there will be over a million such vehicles on the road worldwide by the end of 2016.
So what do all these numbers mean? Basically, that there is a growing acceptance of PHEV and EV vehicles in the market place, and a growing number of EV and PHEV offerings means growing sales. If the pace of sales is less than some might wish for, still the number has grown dramatically since the these cars first became available less than four years ago.
Figures for the US market are impacted by significant federal and state tax incentives, although those programs are always subject to change for political reasons. Currently the State of Georgia is thinking of repealing the $5000 tax credit it offers its citizens who buy an electric vehicle, and as such it has one of the highest EV sales rates.
The bottom line is that a half million PHEV and EV cars are on the road today that weren’t on the road 4 years ago. How many will be on the road 4 years from now is anyone’s guess, but the trend is certainly heading in the right direction. Electric cars ushered in the age of the automobile, but their popularity faded as other means of transportation – primarily the gasoline engine – offered customers more convenience at lower cost. Now the script is flipped, and electric cars are now the vehicles people turn to to save money.
The future of PHEV and EV’s will depend on how quickly the infrastructure to support them becomes available, whether another technology like hydrogen fuel cells captures the public’s attention or whether some exciting new breakthrough in battery technology occurs. The final chapter of this story is a long way from being written.