Originally posted on CleanTechnica
It hasn’t even been four full years since the first plug-in hybrid and electric cars went on sale across the globe, and in many places plug-in cars are still few and far between. Yet across the world, consumers are turning to plug-in cars in greater numbers, with the top ten countries now accounting for over 600,000 plug-in vehicle sales according to a tally by Hybrid Cars.
Most of these sales happened after 2010, when the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt (the two top-selling plug-in cars worldwide) went on sale, though there are a handful of EVs accounted for dating back to 2006. The numbers show that plug-in sales have increased at a staggering pace, with the total number of electrified vehicles jumping from 180,000 in December of 2013 to over 405,000 little more than a year later in January of 2014. Plug-in car sales have since climbed past 500,000 by the end of summer, and Hybrid Cars accounts for at least 603,932 plug-in vehicle sales at the end of last month. Of these, about 356,200 are of the battery electric type, while the remainder (about 247,700) ar of the plug-in hybrid variety.
What is driving these numbers? Well in Europe EVs make up the fastest-growing market, with the Old World climbing out of a deep recession to find a wide variety of plug-in cars offered alongside often-generous incentives. Tesla Motors is also a driving force behind plug-in car sales, responsible for 10% of those sales alone but also driving a lot more interest in electric vehicles in particular. The Nissan LEAF has over 100,000 sales globally though, and the Chevy Volt makes up a big portion of the market as well with nearly 70,000 sales in the U.S. alone. All told more than 250,000 plug-in cars have been sold in the U.S. alone, more than twice the second largest market of Japan (with about 95,000 total sales).
At this rate, plug-in car sales could exceed 700,000 by the end of 2014, and by this time next year they might push past the million-unit mark. While plug-in cars haven’t been as popular or as prevalent as some had believed, they’re actually gaining sales momentum at a faster rate than hybrids like the Toyota Prius initially did.
The power of incentives is also at play her Smaller countries like Norway and the Netherlands have become huge markets for plug-in cars thanks to tax incentives and other government-sponsored benefits like access to bus lanes and free parking. China is also poised to become a major driver of plug-in sales as it passes a similar set of incentives, albeit aimed mostly at domestic automakers for now.
Still, the future for plug-in vehicles looks pretty bright after what some might call a shaky start.