Spokane Journal of Business

Plug-in electric vehicle sales projected to accelerate

E-motorcycles, scooters also grow in popularity, largely in Asian countries

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A recent report from Boulder, Colo.-based Pike Research says sales of plug-in electric vehicles in the 102 largest U.S. cities are expected to total slightly more than 1.8 million from 2012 through 2020.

A separate Pike Research report says annual worldwide sales of electric motorcycles and scooters will reach 18.7 million by 2018. The vast majority of these vehicles will be sold in China.

Plug-in electric vehicles, known in the industry as PEVs, have fallen short of projections to date, but the report says interest in these vehicles is growing, particularly in large metropolitan areas.

Cities combine large population areas with early rollout schedules from vehicle manufacturers, and positive attitudes toward PEVs among residents, making them fertile ground for PEV manufacturers in the coming years.

"More than a quarter of all annual U.S. PEV sales will be in the top five metropolitan areas for PEV sales: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland," says senior research analyst Dave Hurst. "But thanks to a combination of positive attitudes towards green driving, high fuel prices, and state government support, California metropolitan statistical areas will account for more than one in five PEVs sold."

The report's analysis indicates that PEV acceptance is strongly linked not only to the availability of PEV models, but also the accessibility of charging infrastructure.

Texas saw a dramatic increase in the number of electric-vehicle charging stations available in 2012. Pike Research's index of positive opinions toward PEVs moved the state's ranking from 42nd in 2010 tofourth in 2012, the largest change of any state in the index.

The report,"Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts," provides data and forecasts for the plug-in electric vehicle market for states and metropolitan statistical areas as well as Canadian provinces and cities. The report also includes forecasts for PEV sales across selected electric utility service territories. The data includes sales forecasts from 2012 to 2020 at each geographic level as well as analysis of major trends in the forecasts.

The separate report on the two-wheel electric-vehicle market says that market is growing in popularity as a form of transportation, particularly in large cities in the Asia Pacific region.

"Urbanization in Asia Pacific is expected to grow to 55 percent by 2015. The resulting increased traffic and pollution have driven significant government interest in promoting e-motorcycles and e-scooters," Hurst says.

Manufacturers of e-motorcycles and e-scooters are providing more robust features, including longer range capability and higher speeds, accelerating demand for these vehicles. Although still small, the market is expected to grow strongly as consumers become more aware of the products available.

The e-motorcycle/e-scooter market in China, however, is in the midst of some turmoil, the report says. The Chinese government has cracked down on lead-acid battery producers in recent years, limiting supply in some cases. New regulations are putting pressure on unlicensed manufacturers, which has led to some consolidation.

New motor power and size rules for e-bicycles proposed for 2013 would mean that some e-scooters now sold as e-bicycles would need to be licensed. Given that China accounts for some 98 percent of the global market, these developments could have a significant impact on the sector as a whole.

The report,"Electric Motorcycles and Scooters," provides an examination of the market drivers and barriers, technology issues, governmental incentives and regulations, and key drivers of growth in the e-motorcycles and e-scooters industry. The report includes e-motorcycle and e-scooter sales forecasts through 2018, as well as forecasts for lithium ion and lead-acid battery technologies used in e-scooters and e-motorcycles.

Additional information on both reports can be found at www.navigant.com/pikeresearch.

Pike Research, which joined Chicago-based Navigant's global Energy Practice last July, provides analysis of global clean technology markets.

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