U.S. electric-vehicle adoption rate isn't slow, it's typical

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.

That's what speakers from companies such as Ford, Dow Kokam and Gartner were saying last week at the Automotive Megatrends USA 2012 conference in Dearborn, MI, according to, a website about news in Michigan. The condensed gist: since EVs represent an entirely new vehicle technology – at least for the mainstream – how they are accepted by the masses needs to be viewed as a process that could take decades, just as other revolutionary technologies like the personal computer and home electricity did.

Last year, about one in every 700 new cars were electric-drive vehicles like the Nissan Leaf battery electric or the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in. Those two models combined to sell more than 17,000 vehicles. This year, automakers are hoping that the ratio of new EVs to total vehicles may fall to one in 135, though the number's more likely to be closer to about one in 300, reported, citing Thilo Koslowski, vice president and lead automotive analyst at Gartner. Meanwhile, Ford has estimated that as much as 25 percent of its global fleet will be either hybrid-electric or plug-in, compared to about one percent last year.

Projections of plug-in vehicle sales vary. Last year, Michigan's Center for Automotive Research estimated that U.S. electric-drive vehicle sales will hit about 140,000 units in 2014. Colorado-based green-technology research firm Pike Research was more optimistic, saying Americans would buy about 300,000 plug-in vehicles in 2015.

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