BOULDER, CO – According to a new report from Pike Research, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) combined will represent 3.1 percent of worldwide auto sales by 2017. And because of higher penetration rates in the United States, the study projects, HEVs and PEVs will account for 5.1 percent of total U.S. vehicle sales in 2017.

Consumer purchase incentives, rising fossil fuel costs, and new vehicle models are all fueling a strong early adopter market, researchers noted. Automakers around the world will introduce dozens of new models over the next few years, fueling more consumer interest and increasing sales of electric vehicles as a percentage of total auto sales.  

 “The PEV market is anticipated to miss many of the targets set by governments because vehicle programs have not been launching as rapidly as expected even a year ago,” said senior analyst Dave Hurst. “Those targets aside, though, the EV market will grow at a rapid clip in the next six years – at a rate of nearly 20 percent a year, compared to fewer than 4 percent for the worldwide market for vehicles of all kinds.”

Overall, the Asia Pacific region is expected to see the most rapid growth in the number of plug-in electric models, followed by Europe and North America. There will be 26 models of PEVs available in Asia Pacific by the end of 2011, compared to 23 models in Europe and 10 in North America, according to the report. However, strong demand for hybrid electric vehicles in North America will lead to the availability of 40 models by the end of 2012, versus 14 HEV models in Asia Pacific.

In the United States, the PEV market is currently led by two key models -- the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. However, Pike Research anticipates that Ford’s model diversification and recharging equipment strategy will shake up the market. Pike said that Ford will likely take the market lead by 2017 with 23.6 percent PEV market share. Researchers also projected that Toyota (with a plug-in version of its popular Prius) and General Motors will likely find themselves fighting for second place with 21.1 percent and 20.7 percent market share, respectively. 

Startup Tesla’s dealer strategy and high price point are expected to limit its market access. Still, Pike Research said it expects market share for the startup to grow to 4.6 percent by 2017, from 2.2 percent in 2011.

The report, titled “Electric Vehicle Market Forecasts,” includes detailed forecasts 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. Anticipated market shares for selected manufacturers are also provided for the United States.  

Click here for a report summary.