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More EVs—and more kinds of EVs—are expected to be sold this year

TechCrunch TechCrunch 12/07/2016 Kristen Hall-Geisler

If it seems like EVs are everywhere, you’re closer to being right this year than ever before. Navigant Research expects the EV market to grow 62% year over year in 2016, which adds up to nearly 200,000 EVs being sold this year.

Navigant points to long-range battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with price tags under $40,000, like the Chevy Bolt ($37,000 MSRP) that’s expected to hit dealerships in the fall, as being key to this growth. A press release also mentions the Tesla Model X, the latest Chevy Volt, the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and the forthcoming Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV as driving the trend, pun definitely intended.

For the past five years or so, EVs have gotten a bit more of a market share on the West Coast. Navigant says the growth is going to come in the Northeast. Manufacturers are going to need to ramp up marketing to hit targets in several New England states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, that have joined California in an effort to get more zero-emissions cars on the road by 2025.

It may be easier for consumers to find an EV that works for them as ranges get longer, prices drop, and more kinds of EVs become available. That’s getting a bit easier, according to the Department of Energy. In 2015, there were EVs available in 9 different classes, from two-seaters to standard-sized SUVs. More than half, 60%, of all the plug-in electric vehicles sold last year were midsize or large cars, like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S.

Navigant and the DOE agree that the market for plug-in electric vehicles effectively began in 2011, when there were a whopping four models available. (Here’s a note for trivia night: The DOE does not list a Tesla as being available in 2011. The company had stopped taking orders for the Roadster and had not yet started production on the Model S at that point.) Now, there are 29, from the all-electric Fiat 500e to the Volvo XC90 Plug-in Hybrid.

Sales since 2011 have grown from about 20,000 to 120,000, which is a six-fold jump, but it still accounts for fewer than 1% of all vehicle sales in the US. Navigant’s predictions for 2016 could take EVs over that hurdle.

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