Close to acceptable
Roger Thornton, Global Product Group director for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles for automotive consultant Ricardo Co
., said battery-powered cars and plug-in hybrids are getting close to having an acceptable performance for prospective buyers.
They face two big tests.
"There are two huge
issues: the cost of the battery
and range, which for battery vehicles is very specific and limited.
There's no reason an electric car should be more expensive than a regular car but for the battery
Solving that would be a big driver in getting costs down.
As for range, buyers will have to manage that and get used to it,"
Will batteries or plug-ins be the most successful in luring customers?
"You will see a number of different powertrains competing alongside each other for a significant period of time.
Different solutions will appeal to different people
with maybe four or five different types," Thornton said.
Will electric power just be limited to a small niche, or make big inroads into internal combustion engines' share of the market?
"The truth is somewhere between the two.
The idea that electric will displace internal combustion engines is wrong, and vice versa.
You will see continued expansion of the power train mix, and there will be lots of different types.
What's right for middle America won't be right for India or Europe.
We expect from 2015 and beyond 2020 that internal combustion engines will still be numerically dominant, but there will be a very distinctive change from where we are now," he said.
No contact with reality
This is too modest a target for Green Mobil's de Selliers.
"The producers are ready, the technology is ready, and all they are waiting for is the buyers, and that will only come with (government) incentives.
As soon as you get this, it will take less than 5 years to get 20 percent of the (European) market (with battery powered cars) and 20 percent with hybrids," said de Selliers.
Projections from automotive consultancy CSM Worldwide suggest that enthusiasm for electrification has lost all contact with reality.
CSM said it reckons global production of battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles will reach 132,000 in 2015; that's barely featuring on the market radar and a derisory market share of about 0.1 percent.
That total includes major manufacturers, but excludes small, niche manufacturers of little city cars like Norway's Th!nk, and the NICE (not internal combustion engine).
Hybrids -- that's including so-called strong hybrids like the Toyota Prius, and mild hybrids like the Honda Insight -- will reach just over 3 percent of global production.
Alex Woodrow, director and head of research at British consultant Knibb, Gormezano and Partners, also downplays electrification.
"My view is that vehicles such as battery electrics and plug-in hybrids will only have small volume through 2015, growing past 2015, but still relatively low overall.
Battery costs will remain high for the foreseeable future
, which means for 2015, at least, evolutions of current power trains (internal combustion engines) will be the norm," Woodrow said