In 2011, Americans bought 9,754 electric cars and 7,671 plug-in hybrids, according to Edmunds.
This year, sales of electrics reached 10,407 by the end of November, while plug-in hybrids hit 31,042.
And those figures don’t count the new Tesla Motors Model S, which hit the market in June. Palo Alto’s Tesla, which reports sales figures only once each quarter, has taken 13,000 reservations for the all-electric Model S and expects to deliver 2,500 to 3,000 by the end of the year.
The much-derided Volt, meanwhile, has emerged as the field’s leader.
GM sold 7,671 Volts in 2011, the first full year of sales. This year, drivers bought 20,828 Volts through the end of November. At that pace, the car’s sales total for the year could hit 22,000.
Almost 2 decades had to pass before the general public finally accepted the idea of hybrid and electric cars. The first units appeared in the 90s and people looked on them with interest but also with fear and disbelief. It was just the natural human reaction to anything new that threatens to change the things they knew to that point. Let’s be thankful that the other reaction (to “eliminate” the threat) didn’t kick in.
Well, it seems that that fear is something that has been left behind. 2012 was a grand year for hybrids and electric cars of every make and model. Sales have jumped a whopping 73 percent compared to 2011. The leap is enormous! Coming back to earth, we find that in real numbers the increase is not that impressive.
According to market research firm Mintel, via Green Car Reports, sales of plug-in hybrids, hybrids and electric cars will reach 440,000 units by the end of 2012. The numbers are expected to keep on rising in the following years too. Experts believe that the fear of new technology and other psychological factor have mostly been overtaken, with the only real obstacle in front of even higher numbers being the relatively high price of those cars as well as the lack of a sufficiently developed infrastructure.
With the end of the year in sight, dealerships can still hope to make the 50,000 units sold mark. And this happens in spite of a slight drop of sales in November, a dip that led some to think the year will be another semi-failure for the proponents of alternative fuels.
Another factor that contributed to the rising numbers of hybrids sold is the increased diversity offered by carmakers. Just a year ago, in 2011, the offer was limited to just 3 models. That isn’t a whole lot to choose from, you have to admit. Luckily, car makers took that to heart and poured extra effort into fixing the market with 11 different hybrids and electric cars.
Colin Bird, automotive analyst at Mintel,says “New midsize hybrid models, such as the Toyota Prius v and Chevrolet Malibu Eco, have proven popular with consumers, in particular families, who want to buy green without sacrificing other features that fit their lifestyles.”
He continues “The segment will grow even further in 2013, with the launch of several new models, including the full Ford Fusion Hybrid series, and the Honda Accord Hybrid, which will fulfill a wider variety of needs than conventional compact hybrids. Midsize plug-in hybrids will also enter the mainstream in 2013, with the introduction of the Ford Fusion Energi and the Honda Accord Plug-in, which will further improve mainstream acceptance of this, still, fairly novel powertrain segment.”
That being said, automakers have to overtake one serious obstacle as far as EVs are concerned: battery life. A Mintel survey discovered that 87 percent of shoppers worry about battery lifespan, while 86 percent worry about finding a place to recharge their vehicle outside the home. Also, even if 440,000 units seem like a lot, they are only 3.3 percent of the US market. It’s a good start, but the road ahead is still long and hard.