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In 2012, Plug-in Vehicles Will Spread To Multiple Shapes and Sizes

The production volume of new 2012 plug-in cars, like the Toyota RAV4 EV will be low, but the expansion of EVs into new segments is the critical next step for the emerging market.

The plug in vehicle market was launched in earnest in 2011, with the first full year of sales of the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt. These vehicles are small cars that seat four or five passengers. Here’s how 2012 will be different: We’ll start to see a number of new entrants in the luxury, sports car, and crossover segments. Even though the volumes will be low, the expansion into new segments is a big deal. It will give opportunity for consumers interested in electric vehicles to seek out the type of vehicle that best meets their motoring requirements.

Volumes for a number of these products will be modest in 2012—allowing some observers to disregard plug-ins as niche products. The same argument—that low-volume equals insignificant—was made about other types of vehicles in the past, such as Japanese mid-sized cars back in the 1970s, Korean cars in the 1990s, crossovers in the 1990s, etc. Perhaps what the next year or two will tell us is that the plug in market is like other new car segments. In other words, some vehicles will do well and some will not—and the market will develop based on conventional laws of supply and demand.


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