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Electric Car Sales Growth Is Actually Very Strong (Historical Perspective)

Electric car sales have not yet hit 1% of new car sales in the US, but sales are growing fast and it looks certain that they will pass 1% in 2014. 2013 pure electric car sales are up 300% in 2013 compared to 2012. And hitting 1% could mean that electric cars are on their way to market domination by 2020. But to dig in even a little further on why a small percentage of sales in 2013 is not indicative of a small percentage of sales forever, let’s look at the history of conventional car sales and conventional hybrid sales real quickly.

Adjusting for population, after 3 years on the market, plug-in cars (pure electric cars + plug-in hybrid electric cars) have seen about 3 times as many sales as automobiles had seen after their first three years on the market, and also many more sales than conventional hybrids had seen 3 years after their introduction. Here’s more on this from Alex Planes of The Motley Fool:

The American auto industry effectively began in 1896 with a 13-vehicle production run at the Duryea Motor Wagon plant (or garage, as the case might well be). Three years later, just before the start of the 20th century, there were roughly 8,000 cars on what passed for American roads — virtually nothing was paved for vehicle travel. There were 8,000 EVs on the road after eight months of tracking. That’s not really fair, though, because there are more than three times as many people in the U.S. as there were at the turn of the 20th century. Adjusted for population growth, there should have been 33,000 EVs on the roads after three years. That happened after 19 months, and we’re now approaching three times that number midway through the third year of tracking. In fact, EVs are outperforming hybrids at the same point after adoption as well. Here’s what that looks like:


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