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ZSW: more than 400,000 plug-in cars on road worldwide at beginning of 2014; 2x 2013

Accumulated number of xEVs in leading global markets. Annual growth rate over the past three years is more than 100%. Click to enlarge.

At the beginning of 2014, there were more than 400,000 electric cars—battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and range-extended electric vehicles—on the road worldwide, according to an analysis by Zentrums für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) in Germany. This represents a doubling from 2013, according to ZSW.

According to ZSW, the number of registered electric vehicles worldwide has increased at an annual rate of more than 100% over the last three years. At the beginning of 2012, nearly 100,000 of the cars were on the roads worldwide. This rose year later to a total of 200,000, and then to 405,000 units earlier this year.

ZSW projects that, given maintaing growth rates at the same level, there will be more than 1 million electric vehicles on the road by the beginning of 2016.

The tally does not include motorcycles, trucks, buses and the now more than 6-million conventional full-hybrid vehicles.

The US, Japan and China are leading the market, according to the analysis, followed by France, Holland, Norway and Germany. Japanese and US automotive groups are the leading providers, assisted by strong market incentive programs in countries. Nissan is the top-seller, followed by GM/Opel and Toyota; Tesla is accelerating rapidly. The batteries for the xEVs come mainly from Japan and South Korea, ZSW noted.

Accumulated number of cars by top xEV suppliers. Nissan, GM and Toyota leading, Tesla following strongly. Click to enlarge.



Even with their high price, plug-ins have sold at 100+% rise per year?

That may be more than many posters expected?

Can this very high rate be maintained for another 6+ years or till 2020 when affordable extended range BEVs will move in.


There will soon be 800 million vehicles on the world's roads, this is 1/2000th. That is one in 2000 cars are this type. When you only sell a few, twice as many is 100% growth. This is why we need synthetic and bio synthetic fuels, for those 800 million vehicles.


Or gas at 50% higher price than it is now.


When everyone drives EVs the price of electricity will skyrocket on taxes alone.


Even at good compound growth, we might have 8 million by 2025, that is only 1%. I like EVs, PHEVs, EREVs but reality is what it is, no hoping nor wishing will change that.


The most useful comparison would be to the penetration rate of conventional hybrids (Honda Insight, Toyota Prius).  The Prius family was first marketed in 1997, but didn't reach 1 million total sales until 2008 (the Insight never got close).  The plug-in market is expanding many times faster.

If this follows a logistic curve, we'll continue to have annual near-doublings for several more years, with the growth rate slacking off after that.  Once the production rate is in the millions per year, there will also be network effects and economies of scale (e.g. sufficient volume to devote new engine families to hybrids and PHEVs) and that will accelerate the trend.


E-P, I admire the thought in your posts (including this one), but I am not so sure of the analogy. Here's my rationale (based for the most part on US auto market considerations):

(1) The Prius required no changes in the driver/owner's mobility behaviors. Cold weather, refilling energy source, distance of travel, degradation over life (even tough some people incorrectly predicted disaster), etc. were non-issues. You just accepted the funny looks from skeptics and drove as usual.

(2) No "investment" for a home charging station was added to the bill.

(3) From 1997 to 2008, the price of gasoline (adjusted on a constant dollar basis in 2011 $) rose from USD1.65 to USD3.41/gal. On a current dollar basis it was even worse. That, combined with a tremendous gap in fuel economy improvements by many other manufacturers, made the Prius a more compelling choice every year.

(4) The Prius could be a primary car or the only car for a broad variety of owner needs (in its size class). Notwithstanding the fact that most Americans do not drive more than 50-60km/day on average, EVs are rarely seen as adequate as a primary car. Many, many studies have been made to determine the inflection point as a function of range, charge time, etc., but this will even be true with a 200km+ EV. The car per household number in the US was peaking around 2008 (although I admit the data for this isn't all that robust) and has been flat-to-declining since then.

(5) Although it's arguably an outgrowth of (1), I think the issue of residency is also a factor. You can park a Prius down the block from your apartment or dorm, while virtually every EV in the US is garaged. This is a consideration for both charging and environment (pre-conditioning).

(6) Even modest success increases the challenges to manufacturers as the $7500 tax incentive goes away: "The new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit phases out for a manufacturer’s vehicles over the one-year period beginning with the second calendar quarter after the calendar quarter in which at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles manufactured by that manufacturer have been sold for use in the United States."

Honestly, I think we are in for a disappointment in the US in 2014. When you look at the number of new models added over the last couple of model years, the doubling from 55,000 to roughly 96,000 ('12-'13) just spread the market out very thinly. This is what was available at the end of 2013:

Chevrolet Spark EV
Chevrolet Volt
Fiat 500e
Ford C-Max Energi
Ford Focus Electric
Ford Fusion Energi
Honda Accord plug-in
Honda Fit EV
Nissan Leaf
Smart EV
Tesla Model S
Toyota Prius Plug-in
Toyota RAV4EV
(you could add Cadillac ELR and Porche Panamera S E-Hybrid, just to be accurate, since both had a few deliveries in 2013)

All but the Tesla sell at a loss, and even then a significant fraction of the Model S margin is still generated from ZEV and regulatory credits. With gasoline and Diesel prices relatively stable and well below 2008 peaks, there is not much to drive another doubling in 2014.

Personally, my hopes have been dashed time and again by optimistic EV prognostications. At the launch of Volt Akerson said 45,000 sold in 2012. When Ghosn launched the Renault/Nissan electric investment he was confident in 500,000 annually by 2013. In 2009 the USDoT projected one million Plug-Ins on US highways by 2015. We all know how these ended up. Even the Boston Consulting Group study of 2010, roundly criticized by EV supporters as pessimistic, looks like it was overshooting in calling out 3-5% share by 2020. I don't resurrect these failures just to be a wet blanket. What I wish we would do better is understand how well-intentioned and well-informed leaders and agencies could get this sort of thing so wildly incorrect over and over again. As a non-reader of Deutsche I cannot read the study, but if methodologies look similar to what I've seen in the past, I expect to be disappointed in this version, too.

FWIW, the EIA says EVs will account for about 1% of the total US fleet by 2030. That actually sounds more likely to me. In the meantime, I expect that the odd occasional EV pilot encountered in the wild will still be a big deal as we honk and wave and flash lights at one another as members of a tiny club.




Also, just reviewing Q1 sales and projecting the year, just over 100,000 US sales seems possible, but not assured. Growth domestically will not be 100% --- maybe not even 20%.


The situation is special in Norway, the yellow segment, NOR. When you buy a BEV, there is no VAT, no CO2 tax, no tax on weight or horsepower. An ordinary VW Golf, these are approx 40% of the price. So an e-Golf (115 hp) costs 252000 NOK while a Golf TDI (105 hp) costs 299000 NOK. Diesel is 13 NOK per litre, equivalent to approx 1,3 NOK/kWh, while power at home costs 0,85 NOK/kWh. Charging at public stations are free for BEVs, no road toll (also free ferries, free parking and you are allow to drive in the bus/taxi lane to avoid ques. These benefits will be evaluated in 2017 or there are 50000 BEV registered. 1413 Tesla were registered in March this year, a record number of registrations for one car in one month since start of statistic in 1992.


Norway has both fossil fuels and clean Hydro electricity but has chosen to positively support the purchase of electrified vehicles.

Norway's EV program is having unexpected success. If many other countries do the same, sales of EVs would take off.

The new Toyota mini EV may become another success story?


Predicting the future is a fickle game - a black art.

It follows the biological model in those systems which relate to organisms and neural paths that incorporate the full gammit of number sequences and as such are chaotic and unpredictable.

To make a meaningful prediction involves trying to filter the most likely relevant future factors as per statistical information net

That is like saying 'your guess is as good as mine + B.S. in B.S. out.
Good statistical information is highly dependent on operator insight.
What is relevant from 'just noise'.

From my perspective the political social world interfacing with environmental and technology sciences is a pretty interesting place to try and make a projection.

We can try to make assumptions on past experience or evidence assumptions but that only holds in steady state scenarios so not really applicable.

My own take on this is that we have a good start on the technology but there could be an order of magnitude left across all associated possible grains in as little as 15years.

The politics are particularly fast acting as by decree can impact in much faster time frames say less than 5y.

I would assume that social adaption could work much faster.
That's not to say it will or that resistance to change or the 'dark forces or greed and personal interests the fear or indeed the reality of financial jeopardy can cause stagnation and inaction.

We can see many examples of this behavior in recent history.

I.E.Information or nationalist propaganda cold and hot as well as religious wars based on misinformation'

Climate 'denial' practices including industry interests funding 'denialism and esp 'jobs and economy'.

Scare tactics are effective tools to influence public opinion.

Plainly the various matters mentioned will not resolve by themselves and we should note the efforts of simple bloggers such as ourselves and the site administrators as amongst millions of similarly concerned people in assisting alleviate the worst outcomes as best as we can.

Whats the answer?

Your guess is as good as mine but despite the gloomy prognosis there are signs of lite.

I would hope the more rational 'towards best outcome' from proportional response and action scenario has a chance. It certainly won't hurt.

There is a rather sad end note however and that is the ongoing study and understanding of history of climate and biological extinctions has increasingly boxed predictions in black and white and that' not a good look.


Herman, I read your comment, but I couldn't quite figure out what point you were trying to make.

Maybe it'll be clearer after a good night's sleep.

Roger Pham

I share with E-P the notion that future market penetration rates of PHEV need not follow current anemic trend, but will accelerate real fast once the MFG's will make dedicated, clean-sheet PHEV designs that will make PHEV's far more attractive than they are today.

First of all, ditch the large and heavy 4-cylinder engine and use small 2-3 cylinder engines of no more than 600-1000 cc displacement. This will give ample of space under the hood to store at least 1/2 of the battery pack, leaving more room in the trunk for luggage. The fuel tank will be downsized from 12-14 gallons to 5-6 gallons, thereby freeing up more space for luggage.

Do away with 5-6-speed transmission by using a pair of motor-generators to simulate a CVT when condition calls for it, like when climbing long slopes with a nearly-depleted battery pack. During typical cruise with the engine running, with significant charge on the battery, the engine can simply be clutched to the differential unit to transfer torque directly to the wheels. The engine can be allowed to provide constant torque when the motor will supplement the engine torque for climbing uphill, while the motor/generator will absorb the engine's torque when going down hill, thereby allowing the engine to operate at the most efficient point in the map all the time.

With charging sockets provided at most workplace parking to be mandated by laws upon increasing popularity of the PHEV's, a PHEV can be charged twice daily, hence will need no more than 15-20 mi of range on battery alone, in order to keep down the battery size and to reduce weight, cost, and increase luggage space.

MFG's can do much better job of promoting PHEV's by providing for optional plug-out, in which the PHEV can serve as backup generator for home or businesses in case of power black out, or for outdoor trips.

The high reliability of PHEV's by virtue of having dual power plants in one vehicle should make it more appealing for a lot of people who don't want to be stranded on the road. The ICE unit may never need tuneup since it will only be used occasionally, perhaps at only 1/3-1/4 of total mileage. So, by the time the engine is ready for a 100k mile tuneup, the vehicle will have traveled 300,000 to 400,000 miles and ready to be retired. The brakes will probably never need servicing, either, and there is no transmission to breakdown or to maintain, nor will there be any conventional starter, generator, water pump, lead-acid battery, and accessory belts to replace, as these are the most trouble-prone items keeping one stranded on the road.

The advantages of PHEV's over ICEV are too numerous...Not too long from now, people will wake up to these advantages of the PHEV's just like they have discovered the advantages of smart phones over the old-style flip cell phones and almost no one will buy flip cell phones anymore, even though smart phones are much more expensive and a lot more bulky to carry. The current trend now is for bigger and more powerful smart phones...The transition toward smart phones took well under a decade...and so will the transition toward PHEV's...perhaps a little longer, but it will happen.

And then there will be FCV's soon to be commercially available that will be able to utilize CO2-free energy. FCV's will have all the conveniences of an ICEV or an HEV, with rapid fillup and long range and never need plug-in, while FCV's are capable of a plug-out to back up the grid. One major advantage of FCV over ICEV is that the fuel tank of a FCV is so strong that will never rupture in an otherwise survivable crash. H2 from RE will someday be much cheaper than petroleum, perhaps will cost less 1/2 per mile travel in comparison to ICEV of today. That will be another incentive for buying a near-future FCV.

So, the near future will look bright for EV's, in both forms of PHEV and FCV, and, with proper marketing, will become MUST-HAVES, just like smart phones of today!


E-P: Guilty of verbosity as charged; apologies for that. TL/DR version: technical and market considerations aren't as favorable to PHEV growth today as they were for Prius '97-08. The market is saturated with models that largely don't sell, and predictions of substantial market penetration have consistently been wildly overstated. Hope you got a good night's sleep.

Roger: I'm with you in every regard until you get to the smart phone analogy. There is a cost difference of two orders of magnitude (note: our government GIVES poor people smart phones). Over 75% of US auto purchases in 2013 were for cars $25k or under. You've described a great technical concept (which I would LOVE to own, BTW) that could not be sold with present technology for less than the price of a Volt (which is a negative margin product). Please understand I WANT you to be right, but am very pessimistic.

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