Research Firm: Electric Vehicle Sales Up 11.5% By 2012

International Market Solutions, LLC (IMS) a worldwide management consulting firm with a particular focus on fibers and textiles, as well as small automobiles and utility vehicles, recently completed a study entitled, Golf Car-Type Vehicles and the Emerging Market for Small, Task-Oriented Vehicles in the United States: Trends 2000-2006; Forecasts to 2012. The small, task-oriented vehicle (STOV) market includes golf-car type vehicles, privately owned small vehicles and NEVs, and light and heavy-duty utility vehicles. The study finds current new and used vehicle sales in this market to be in excess of 750,000 units.

Continuing an ongoing trend in the light portage and personal transportation segment, electric vehicles are projected to take an increasing share of this segment of the small, task-oriented vehicle market reaching nearly 300,000 units by 2012, representing over 70% of the market. Privately-owned vehicles such as NEVs and golf cars used in gated communities will continue to be a significant driver in electric vehicle market share.

In the heavy-duty utility vehicle segment, gas and diesel vehicles will continue to dominate. While a few manufacturers are innovating with electric vehicles in this segment, IMS does not foresee significant inroads for electrics by 2012 unless improvements and cost efficiencies are realized in battery and AC drive technologies.

IMS says the small, task-oriented vehicle industry marked several milestones in the past two years that will help drive expansion in the next five years. These include:
  • Key new product entries and innovative technologies that boost performance and comfort, including the first adaptation of AC electric power to a major golf car-type vehicle manufacturer's product line;
  • Continued evidence of the globalization of the small vehicle industry, particularly in the sourcing of parts and accessories;
  • A major concentration of sales efforts and capacity expansion in off-road vehicles;
  • A tightening of used vehicle supplies, pointing to increases in the privately-owned (personal use) market.

In the study's key forecasts, IMS projects:
  • Substantial gains for new, privately-owned vehicle (including neighborhood electric vehicles) and utility vehicle segments, where double-digit growth is forecast;
  • Increased sales of electric-powered vehicles in all segments, growing at an 11.5 percent clip through 2012. (Small, albeit significant inroads of electric power in the heavy duty utility vehicles are also likely.)

"Heading into an environment of continuing increases in the cost of hydrocarbonand bio-based fuels and stringent regulation of emissions, IMS sees major opportunities for small vehicle manufacturers across all segments, especially when it comes to electric power," says Stephen Metzger, IMS Managing Director and principal author of the study.

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