Research firm Pike Research is forecasting that global EV and hybrid sales will reach an annual 3.8m units by 2020. 

Since the launch of the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, in late 2010, plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) have become more widely available in Asia Pacific, North America, and Western Europe.  Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which first appeared a decade earlier, are now selling steadily in those regions as well.  According to a new report from PIKE Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, annual worldwide sales of these vehicles, collectively referred to as electric vehicles (EVs), will reach 3.8 million by 2020.

“Sales of EVs have not lived up to automakers’ expectations and politicians’ proclamations, but the market is expanding steadily as fuel prices remain high and consumers increasingly seek alternatives to internal combustion engines,” says senior research analyst Dave Hurst.  “Indeed, sales of plug-in EVs will grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 40% over the remainder of the decade, while the overall auto market will expand by only 2% a year.”

The PEV sector can be split into two vehicle categories, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs).  According to the report, the number of PHEVs sold in most regions is expected to be lower than BEVs, except for North America and Latin America.  In these regions, the longer driving range of PHEVs is expected to prove more attractive to consumers.  In other regions, the high cost of petroleum fuels, large number of BEVs available, and dense urban areas are anticipated to contribute to higher sales of BEVs than PHEVs, Pike says.