Hybrid and electric car sales are up 73 percent over last year, with about 440,000 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electrics sold thus far this year, representing 3.3 percent of all vehicles sold in 2012, according to a Mintel report.
According to Hybrid and Electric Cars – US – November 2012, the rapid sales growth in hybrid and electric vehicles makes the segment the fastest growing in the US for 2012.
The number of plug-in and electric models available to the public has nearly quadrupled in 2012, Mintel says, from three models in 2011, to the 11 available today.
The report says the market for hybrids and EVs will continue to grow in the US over the coming years. Mintel forecasts sales of hybrid and electric cars to exceed 535,000 units by the end of 2013, or a 14 percent increase in sales over 2012 estimates. By 2017, Mintel forecasts that sales of hybrid and EVs will reach 850,000 units, representing five percent of the total US car market.
Mintel analyst Colin Bird says new midsize hybrid models, such as the Toyota Prius v and Chevrolet Malibu Eco, are popular with families because they are larger than conventional compact hybrids. He says this segment will grow in 2013 with the launch of new models including the full Ford Fusion Hybrid series, and the Honda Accord Hybrid.
Additionally, the report forecasts midsize plug-in hybrids will also enter the mainstream in 2013, with the introduction of the Ford Fusion Energi (pictured) and the Honda Accord Plug-in.
While the high and rising cost of fuel is driving the EV and hybrid market — the report says 34 percent of consumers age 25 to 34 think “it is easy to make back the extra money spent on a hybrid car in savings at the pump” — price remains the biggest hurdle for plug-in hybrids and EVs. Mintel’s survey showed that the average consumer was willing to spend about $2,000 more to upgrade from a conventional car to an electric-only version of the same car. Today’s plug-in hybrids and electric cars cost anywhere between $10,000-$20,000 more than their conventional counterparts.
Other factors preventing consumers from buying an alternative fuel car include battery issues. The report says 87 percent worry about the length of time the battery will run for, 86 are concerned about not being able to find somewhere to recharge their vehicle while on a trip, and 86 percent worry about availability of places to charge outside the home or neighborhood.