New York, New York – Plug-in electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles, have the potential to make up nine per cent of auto sales in 2020 and 22 per cent in 2030, according to research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance. However, the company warns that achieving such growth levels will be dependent on two key factors, aggressive reductions in battery costs and rising gasoline prices.

In the short term, price will be the most significant limitation to purchases of both plug-in hybrid vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt and fully electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf. The median base price of automobiles sold in the U.S. between July 2009 and June 2010 was US$21,800, while by comparison, the Leaf will cost $26,280 after federal subsidies, which is higher than three-quarters of all new auto sales.

Bloomsberg estimates that in 2011, the Volt will target an addressable market of seven per cent of total U.S. sales, while the Leaf will target eleven per cent. However, actual sales will be much lower and limited by vehicle availability.

The model also forecasts sensitivity to gas prices, which will have a considerable effect on uptake. Rises in electricity prices do not affect sales as severely, the company concluded, as fuel costs are a lower proportion of the total cost of ownership for electric vehicles.

“2011 will see the launch of a large number of new plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle models around the world,” said Michael Liebriech, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “It’s not just car companies who have a lot riding on their success. Utilities, oil companies, whole countries will feel the impact if there is rapid uptake.”

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