Green car demand projected to jump

Consumer demand for electric and hybrid vehicles is ripe around the globe.

According to a new Pike Research report, the rising cost of fossil fuel, the release of new vehicles and incentive programs at state and federal levels are all factors fueling increased demand.

The report forecasts hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles will represent 3.1 percent of worldwide auto sales by 2017.

In the U.S. alone, those numbers are even higher. Hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in cars will account for 5.1 percent of total U.S. vehicle sales in 2017, the report says. 

New, innovative models of electric cars will help drive sales. For example, new versions of the Chevrolet Spark EV and Honda Fit EV are expected to roll out soon, with additional automakers around the world planning to introduce dozens of new models over the next few years.

The region forecast to have the biggest jump in the number of green cars available is Asia Pacific.  There will be 26 different models of plug-in electric vehicles available in Asia by the end of this year, compared to 23 models in Europe and 10 in North America. 

An increased demand for hybrid electric vehicles in North America will lead to the availability of 40 models by the end of 2012, versus 14 hybrid electric models in Asia Pacific.

The Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf currently dominate the U.S. market, but the report shows Ford soon entering and shaking up the market.

Ford is expected to take the market lead by 2017 with a 23.6 percent plug-in electric vehicle market share, while
 Prius maker Toyota and Volt maker General Motors are predicted to be left fighting for second place with an estimated 21.1 percent and 20.7 percent market share, respectively.

Kristy Hessman, EarthTechling