Report: 3.24 million plug-in EVs sold by 2015

As automakers gear up for market push of assorted plug-in vehicles, it looks like Chinese and U.S. drivers will buy the majority of them, according to Pike Research.

Automakers will sell a total of 3.24 million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles worldwide between 2010 and 2015, according to a report released Wednesday.

Green driving

It will be Chinese and U.S. drivers buying most of these vehicles, Pike Research says in its report, "Plug-in Electric Vehicles." Cars in these categories include the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, the battery electric Ford Focus, and a number of vehicles from China's BYD Auto.

Over the five-year period, Chinese consumers are expected to purchase about 888,000 plug-in and battery electric vehicles combined, accounting for 27 percent of worldwide sales, while U.S. consumers are expected to purchase about 841,000 such vehicles, or 26 percent.

Plug-in cars and light-duty trucks are expected to gain in popularity due to their "improved fuel economy, lower emissions, and a quieter ride than comparable traditionally powered internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles," according to Pike Research.

However, U.S. consumers are still skittish about the initial cost of the vehicles despite the promise of long-term fuel savings. They also remain worried that the number of miles between charges a plug-in all-electric vehicle can manage--the vehicle range,--may not be enough to meet their needs.

Manufacturers are well aware of consumers' concerns over range and cost, which is why their smaller models will be the first to carry the new technology.

"Electric vehicles will follow the lead of hybrids and will be launched in the small car segment for consumer markets initially, with the small SUV segment close behind. Because of their low weight and good aerodynamics, smaller vehicles are far more efficient to better extend the electrically powered driving range, and the smaller vehicle segments also allow the use of a smaller, less expensive battery," Dave Hurst, senior analyst at Pike Research, said in a statement.

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