At least one research company is taking the "hockey stick" approach to its plug-in vehicle forecast. Navigant Research says Americans will buy 7.4 million plug-in light-duty vehicles between 2015 and 2024. That's an average of almost three-quarters of a million plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles sold a year. Does that seem quite optimistic to anyone else?

To its credit, Navigant recognizes that US consumers won't be able to do this alone. One key to increasing demand is a more robust plug-in vehicle charging infrastructure. Currently, this remains a feature found largely in big cities and along major highways, but it is starting to fill in a bit. Additionally, state- and federal-government incentives will continue to be a factor as the price of plug-in vehicles remains above similarly equipped cars with gas-powered ICEs.

Of course, to even approach sales numbers of around 750,000 vehicles a year, automakers will have to reverse what's been a declining plug-in vehicles sales result this year (perhaps some prospective diesel-vehicle buyers will have something to do with that in the near future). Through August, US plug-in vehicle sales were likely down about 13 percent to about 69,000 units. We say likely because Tesla Motors continues to be coy about releasing either monthly or country-specific sales figures. But either way, 69,000 marks a change from last year, when plug-in vehicle sales jumped about 20 percent to approximately 117,000 units as Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf battery-electric sales advanced.

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