The numbers of alternative fuelled vehicles hitting the roads in the UK and North America reached a record high during 2012.
According to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) registrations of alternatively-fuelled cars in the UK rose 9.4% in 2012 achieving 1.4% market share, a new high.
A total of more than two million new cars were registered in the UK last year, up 5.3% on the previous 12 months and the best result since recession struck in 2008. Diesel cars took a record 50.8% market share while the average CO2 emissions for new cars fell to 133.1 g/km in 2012, down almost 23% on a decade ago and within sight of the 130g/km target the EU requires automakers to meet by 2015.
Across the pond the latest research from Mintel shows that sales for alternative fuelled vehicles in the US were up 73%, with nearly 440,000 hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles sold during 2012 taking its market share of all vehicles sold to 3.3%. The rapid sales growth in hybrid and electric vehicles makes the segment the fastest growing in the US last year, supplanting the still fast growing, compact car vehicle segment.
Hybrids and electrics are expected to make even more headwind in the US market over the coming years with Mintel forecasting sales of hybrid and electric cars to exceed 535,000 units by the end of 2013. By 2017 Mintel forecasts that sales of hybrid and electric vehicles will reach 850,000 units or 5% of the total US car market, as newer models gain traction with consumers.
Colin Bird, automotive analyst at Mintel, said: “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. The segment will grow even further in 2013, with the launch of several new models, including the complete 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.”
However, there are still some factors preventing consumers from buying a plug-in hybrid or electric car. Battery issues are a top concern among consumers, with 87% worrying 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 the same number are concerned about availability of places to charge outside the home or their area of living. Another source of apprehension for 85% of US consumers is the recharge time of plug-ins and electric vehicles.
Price also remains the biggest hurdle for plug-in hybrids and electric cars as they enter the market. Mintel’s consumer survey shows 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. However, today’s plug-in hybrids and electric cars cost anywhere between $10,000-$20,000 more than their conventional counterparts.