Boston, Massachusetts – While grid-connected electric vehicles are still in their early stages, micro-hybrid sales will top three million units this year and rise to 34 million by the middle of the decade, according to Lux Research. “Micro-hybrid” refers not to the size of the car, but to how it uses energy.

Unlike conventional hybrids or plug-in hybrids, which apply energy storage towards propulsion, micro-hybrids apply it more modestly for start-stop and/or regenerative braking applications. Rather than more expensive nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion batteries, micro-hybrids use more cost-effective energy storage, such as flooded lead-acid batteries, enhanced flooded batteries, absorbed glass mat batteries and advanced lead-acid systems that often include ultracapacitors.

“Micro-hybrids’ more modest use of electricity has led some purists to dismiss them as a suitable alternative to gas-powered cars,” said Jacob Grose, senior analyst at Lux Research. “Yet they represent the most cost-effective route to achieving regulatory carbon emission and mileage goals. We expect that, by the middle of this decade, 37 per cent of the new passenger vehicles sold throughout the world will be micro-hybrids.”

Lux forecasts the following for micro-hybrids:

– With the most stringent environmental regulations, Europe will remain at the forefront of micro-hybrid adoption. Sales of 2.8 million units projected for 2010 are on track to grow to 10.5 million by 2015, by which time micro-hybrids will comprise 64 per cent of European auto sales.

– Milder fuel efficiency targets in the U.S. will cause slower adoption. The company expects that micro-hybrid sales will grow from virtually zero in 2010 to 4.6 million units by 2015.

– The micro-hybrid market in China will skyrocket from roughly 300,000 units in 2010 to 9.5 million units in 2015, representing 48 per cent of the country’s passenger vehicle sales in that year.

– Sales in Japan will grow from 300,000 units in 2010 to 3.8 million by 2015, resulting in almost two-thirds of sales being micro-hybrids by mid-decade.

Connect with