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Is Demand For Battery Car Technology Over-Hyped?

New J.D. Power study suggests marginal market for electric propulsion.

by on Oct.27, 2010

Will consumers plug into battery vehicles, like the 2011 Nissan Leaf? A new study suggests demand will lag the hype.

Even when combining conventional hybrids with more advanced plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, Power’s new Drive Green study projects that demand for all forms of battery-based vehicles will account for only 7.3% of the total worldwide automotive market by 2020.

But Power researchers acknowledge that their forecast contains a number of variables and several key unknowns could dramatically change what happens over the coming decade.

“The most likely scenario” leading to significantly greater interest in battery power, said senior Power analyst Dave Sargent, “would be a dramatic and sustained increase in gasoline prices.”

According to Drive Green, hybrids, or HEVs, and BEVs will account for 5.2 million of the 70.9 million cars, trucks and crossovers Power expects to be sold worldwide by 2020.  That compares with 954,000 battery vehicles expected to be sold through the end of this year, 2.2% of the total worldwide market of 44.7 million vehicles.

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While battery propulsion may be making great headlines and generating a lot of buzz – and investment – within the auto industry, Sargent says, “The people who are least interested are consumers,” especially after they hear the downside of battery technology.