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Hybrid, battery-electric cars: will the hype lead to sales?

Chevrolet-VoltDespite the flurry of attention surrounding the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, hybrid and battery-electric vehicles are likely to account for just 7.3% of the 70.9 million passenger vehicles sold globally in 2020, according to a study released Wednesday by J.D. Power and Associates.

According to the Drive Green 2020 Report, the main reasons U.S. car buyers do not consider buying hybrids are cost, displeasing designs, performance deficiencies and maintenance concerns. Those who consider purchasing hybrids but ultimately buy internal-combustion vehicles do so because the cost of the hybrids is too high and the performance, i.e. acceleration or towing capacity, is inadequate, the report said.

Alternative drive-train vehicles cost 25% to 30% more than their internal combustion counterparts, said Tim Dunne, director of global automotive operations for J.D. Power in Westlake Village, Calif. It follows, then, that buyers of alternative-propulsion vehicles come from a fairly high income bracket. According to J.D. Power, the annual median household income of a hybrid buyer is $111,000 versus $91,000 for so-called gas buyers. 

"There are a lot of unknowns in the market," Dunne said. "At the end of the day, consumers want to do the right thing, but they're going to consider how it impacts them financially first. The price to the consumer is paramount if you really want success."

The Drive Green 2020 Report was compiled using data from the world's four largest passenger-vehicle markets -- China, the United States, Europe and Japan -- and included a review of each country's governmental regulations and economic climate, along with customer and automaker interviews.

The report forecasts the U.S. as the leading market for hybrid vehicles by 2020; it predicts 1.7 million hybrids will be sold in the U.S. that year. Europe and China will be the biggest buyers of battery-electric vehicles; U.S. sales are forecast to be only 100,000 annually in 10 years.

"While many people are interested in reducing fuel consumption and improving emissions," Dunne said, "there's no coordinated global policy in terms of how to achieve that."

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: A Chevy Volt. Credit: General Motors


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Electric & hybrid cars are more demand. Both are Eco-friendly & zero emission cars, both cars doesn't produce toxic gas. Which helps to environment to keep green & clean.

If there was ever a product destined to fail, this has got to be it. Let me get this straight. It will only go about 40 miles on electric power. Then it runs on PREMIUM gas only. It only seats four. It costs $41,000 less a $7,500 tax deduction. You also have to fork over $500 for the home charger. You also have to hire an electrician to run a dedicated 220 Volt 30Amp circuit to charge the thing. What you save on gas you pay for electric (coal burning). The only people I forsee buying this thing are hollywood green people who in turn will never drive them. Way to go Obama Motors.

I find it interesting that so many articles mention the electric car hype but they fail to mention the Nissan LEAF is sold out for the next two years. Sounds like that old joke, "No one goes to that night club anymore, it's too crowded!" I can remember when the first cell phones came out nearly 30 years ago. The press said they cost too much, the battery didn't last long enough, there was no coverage, etc, etc. There were numerous reports that due to their limitations, the entire cell phone market would peak in the hundreds of thousands of units. Sound familiar?

J.D. Power is assuming a steady state environment regarding costs and innovation. They couldn't be more wrong. Electric car battery packs which cost over $10,000 today could cost less than $1,000 in 2020 and we'll also have dirt cheap solar to charge them.

I sure as all heck won't be buying one, give me a nice gas guzzling pickup every time......

Wouldn't it be nice if we had some "global leadership" to implement an alternative to fossil-fueled transportation? Where then would the terrorists find their financing?

7.3% isn't bad given the brand new technology and the cost.


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