New York, New York – Consumer acceptance of hybrid vehicles is paving the way for plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles, according to a new report by research firm SBI Energy.

Buyers around the world are accepting hybrid vehicles and giving them equal weight as an option in their car purchases, the company said. The report examines the natural progression occurring in the marketplace from hybrids to plug-in hybrids to battery vehicles, but said that each stage won’t likely be picked up by consumers in mass quantities until the previous technology has matured and reached a significant portion of the market.

“The hybrid electric vehicle has been accepted into the automotive scene like no other type of electric vehicle before,” said Shelley Carr, publisher of SBI Energy. “And what’s truly impressive is how well hybrids are doing compared to regular passenger vehicles.”

Global sales of hybrid vehicles rose 33 per cent in 2009, with 700,000 vehicles sold in an unfavourable economic climate. SBI Energy calculates that sales of hybrids accounted for 99 per cent of all electric vehicle sales worldwide in 2009.

In Japan, hybrids produced by domestic manufacturers for domestic sale reached 334,000 vehicles in 2009, essentially tripling production when compared to 2008. Overall, Japan garnered almost half of all global hybrid sales, followed by the U.S. with 42 per cent of global sales. The report said that buying a hybrid in the U.S. is still very much about making a statement concerning oil use and environmental conservationism, while in Japan, environmental sentiment and a personal sense of responsibility to do something about environmental issues is much more pervasive.

According to SBI Energy, future growth of the electric vehicle market on a global scale with depend on three key motivators: government incentives to consumers to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles, any increase in the price of gasoline, and a reduction in the price difference between hybrids and non-hybrids.

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