Westlake Village, California – Global hybrid electric vehicle sales are expected to rise by 16 per cent in 2010, according to a new report by J.D. Power and Associates. The company expects 840,000 hybrids to be sold by the end of the year.

The U.S. was the largest single market for hybrid vehicles for several years, until it was overtaken by Japan in 2009. Sales in Japan were mainly due to the success of the new Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, as well as government incentives that boosted the sales of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Global sales of battery electric vehicles (BEV) in 2009 were fewer than 10,000 units, or less than one-tenth of one per cent of market share. Sales of BEVs are expected to increase only marginally in 2010, to 20,000 units, but are projected to grow substantially to nearly 300,000 units by 2015, and attain a market share of 0.3 per cent.

Nearly one-half of all BEV sales in 2015 are projected to be in China. Other markets may be slower to adopt them due to consumer concerns about high initial cost, limited driving range, and lack of charging stations and battery replacement systems.

“Due to many factors, including government support, domestic lithium-ion battery suppliers, and the willingness and ability to create the infrastructure needed to support widespread BEV use, China carries the greatest potential for BEVs over the mid-term forecast,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting. “Battery electric vehicles have generated tremendous consumer interest and have been promoted prominently. However, actual global sales of BEVs may take much longer than many expect to reach a critical mass, since the price premium is extremely high compared to an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle, and plug-in hybrids are a less expensive alternative with a much greater driving range.”

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