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While US plug-in vehicle demand hit a slump last year, the direction of global sales of electric vehicles will likely be far less downward trending over the next few years. In fact, global electric vehicle revenue will likely reach $58 billion in 2021, ABI Research says. That represents a fivefold increase from 2015. From ABI's mouth to Carlos Ghosn's ears.

Ford and BMW are making electric bikes that can fit inside the trunk.

The jump will be fueled by both an increased demand overseas as well as a wider choice of EV types. For instance, Ford and BMW are making electric bikes that can fit inside the trunk of a conventional vehicle – the concept being that commuters can make that "last mile" emissions-free. Personal EVs and three-wheeled plug-ins are also in store, broadening the types of EVs green-loving citizens can buy. Meanwhile, the success of BYD shows how much countries like China are adopting plug-in vehicles as a primary transportation option.

Things seem to be moving in a positive direction once again in the US, too. Last year, US plug-in vehicle sales dropped 6.9 percent to about 110,000 units after advancing about 20 percent the previous year and surging 85 percent in 2013. For 2016, through April, US plug-in vehicle sales were up 11 percent from last years numbers to almost 33,000 units, with the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and, of course, Tesla, showing big gains.

ABI Research says that upswing is likely to continue, especially with Tesla and General Motors readying the Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt, respectively, with their 200-mile all-electric ranges. Also, more companies are starting to make fleet purchases of plug-in vehicles.

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Telsa Model 3 versus Chevrolet Bolt | Autoblog Minute

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Smart Mobility on the Rise: Global Electric Vehicle Revenue to Hit $58 Billion in 2021
Scottsdale, Arizona - 09 May 2016

As extreme pollution and congestion in urban areas coupled with limited transportation options continues to challenge major cities across the globe, ABI Research, the leader in transformative technology innovation market intelligence, predicts an imminent rise in smart electric mobility. Data analysis forecasts global electric vehicle revenue will hit $58 billion in 2021, more than five times its market value in 2015.

"The role of vehicle electrication in urban areas is part of a broader smart mobility model that includes shared vehicles, charging options, and driverless electric vehicle fleets of cars, buses, trams, and light rail," says Susan Beardslee, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. "No singular option prevails; in fact, innovative manufacturers are creating ways for them to converge."

Leading automotive manufacturers Ford and BMW, for instance, are looking to create electric bikes that could fit and charge inside of a car. The goal is for drivers to then be able to ditch their cars and use the bikes as a more eco-friendly mode of transportation to complete the last leg of long journeys. Similarly, Tier 1 companies, like Continental, are designing and manufacturing batteries and engines that can better accommodate small, personal electric vehicles.

China is one region pushing particularly hard to make electric vehicles a reality, with regional vendors like BYD outselling larger OEMs like Chevy, Nissan, and Tesla by miles. And as newer urban electric transportation categories continue to emerge, such as three-wheeled vehicles more commonly referred to as velomobiles, so too do opportunities for emerging markets and the elderly or disabled.

"The U.S. is taking longer to embrace the trend, though, with many residents expressing hesitation to let go of their private, singular vehicles as we move toward a shared, smart mobility transportation model," continues Beardslee. "Once the price point of electric vehicles starts to drop, as evident with Tesla's Model 3 and the forthcoming Chevy Bolt, and manufacturers address range anxiety, we believe that the U.S. market will see a jump in its sales. Over time, we expect greater adoption through fleet purchases including Uber and Lyft."

Personal mobility companies VeloMetro and EcoReco, for instance, are embracing the shared fleet mentality. Both companies are rolling out innovative personal transport vehicles that they plan to pilot with universities and municipalities in the months ahead.

"While the market's current lack of sufficient standards and infrastructure is impacting the broader adoption of electric vehicles, we believe that the greater access, variety, and flexibility of electric vehicles and increasing urban congestion will positively influence future electric vehicle deployment and adoption," concludes Beardslee. "The long-term forecasting of global energy needs from Exxon shows the sobering impact of an unsustainable 35% to 140% increase in energy requirements. Global consortia and public and private partnerships will continue to be leading efforts resulting in necessary change to our transportation industry."

These findings are part of ABI Research's Smart Transportation Service, which includes research reports, market data, insights, and competitive assessments.

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About ABI Research

For more than 25 years, ABI Research has stood at the forefront of technology market intelligence, partnering with innovative business leaders to implement informed, transformative technology decisions. The company employs a global team of senior analysts to provide comprehensive research and consulting services through deep quantitative forecasts, qualitative analyses and teardown services. An industry pioneer, ABI Research is proactive in its approach, frequently uncovering ground-breaking business cycles ahead of the curve and publishing research 18 to 36 months in advance of other organizations. In all, the company covers more than 60 services, spanning 11 technology sectors. For more information, visit www.abiresearch.com.

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