The market for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) today has very little diversity in terms of the types of vehicles available. At the moment a retail consumer looking to buy a PEV can choose between a small car and a large luxury car. Fleet customers —businesses or government agencies that lease cars — can choose from a slightly broader range, as a handful of battery-electric medium-duty trucks and heavier plug-in hybrids are available.
We expect PEVs to be offered in a variety of vehicle segments in the coming years. However, the vast majority on the road will still be small cars. Overall, between 2012 and 2017, more than 900,000 light-duty PEVs will be sold in the United States.
In general, the small car (like the Nissan Leaf) is the best configuration for battery- electric vehicles (BEVs). These smaller, lightweight vehicles help to reduce the size of the battery needed to achieve the desired range. As the vehicle gets larger and heavier, the most expensive part of the vehicle — the battery — must also be larger to achieve the same range. Consequently, even by 2017, it is extremely unlikely the retail market will see many mass-marketed BEV pickup trucks or midsize or large SUVs. .
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) will be slightly larger than BEVs in general, because they have an additional gas engine capable of providing longer overall vehicle ranges. The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid (PHV) and Ford Fusion Energi are projected to be strong competitors in the midsize car segment. Similar to BEVs, the truck segments are the least likely to see development of PHEVs. PHEV trucks are expected to be relegated to fleets and specialty uses where the total cost of ownership (from purchase through the end of vehicle life) is most likely to be calculated at the time of purchase.
Market growth in the next few years will be limited by PEV availability. By 2014, however, we anticipate that every major original equipment manufacturer (OEM) will have a PEV on the market. The number of vehicle programs announced in North America through 2014 has reached 32 models and will likely broaden to as many as 50 models by 2017. This diversity will address another concern: brand loyalty. Potential customers who are looking for a specific brand of vehicle will have PEV options by 2014.
The following pages will forecast the EV market by its different sectors.