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Walk into a traditional auto dealership today and ask about buying a plug-in car and there is a good chance you will be told that there are only a couple they can show you because they are extremely popular and they can't keep them on the lot. There is also an equally-good chance you'll be told they've only a couple on hand because nobody wants them. This is only one of many surprising discoveries Consumer Reports made during a recent effort to gauge the quality of the plug-in vehicle retail exp

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An automotive history benchmark was achieved in 2011 when more than 20,000 plug-in electric vehicles were sold in the US. Initial ambitious global plans by automakers have been downsized this year as consumers have been more cautious than anticipated to embrace new plug-in vehicle technology. Despite that, Pike Research continues to see indications for significant growth in long-term global demand for plug-ins.

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We've all heard the doom and gloom about the failure of plug-in cars, right? It is true that plug-in vehicles will account for substantially less than one percent of new cars sold in the U.S. this year, but that doesn't mean electric-drive vehicle advocates should fret. Not when you look at a bigger picture.

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In the battle for plug-in vehicle U.S. sales supremacy, the electric-only Nissan Leaf has emerged the victor once again, beating the Chevrolet Volt for the sixth consecutive month (April, May, June, July, August and now September). Its half-year reign as the plug-in champ has jolted the Leaf well ahead of the Volt in total U.S. sales.

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Pike Research has put out an estimate saying that annual sales of plug-in vehicles in the United States will hit 358,959 by 2017. And they're not all going to the usual suspects. Mostly, sure, but not all.

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It's true that crystal balls that accurately forecast the future of plug-in vehicles don't exist, but for $2,800 you can buy a copy of a report that concludes with this bit of info: worldwide cumulative plug-in vehicle sales will reach 5.2 million units by 2017.

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Once again, General Motors is burying the monthly sales totals for the Chevy Volt. In a press release headlined "May U.S. Retail Sales Rise 9 Percent on Demand for Fuel-Efficient Vehicles," the Volt's sales numbers are not disclosed. Instead, the total – 481 – is in the detailed PDF of the Chevrolet brand sales totals and shows the car is suffering from another month-to-month drop; GM sold 493 in April. Last month, GM told us that drop in Volt sales compared to March's 608 units was

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Forecasting the future of the plug-in vehicle segment is not an exact science, but countless firms, including Pike Research, strive to provide accurate predictions. Recently, Pike constructed a model for plug-in vehicles sales broken down by individual states and metropolitan statistical areas.

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