Electric Vehicles: 10 Predictions for 2011

By · December 28, 2010

Crystal Ball Trance

The electric car will get its revenge in 2011 as many of the world's largest automotive manufacturers will begin selling thousands of plug-in electric vehicles to consumers for the first time. The PEVs and charging infrastructure got off to a slower than anticipated start in 2010 as only a few of the vehicles were delivered at the end of December, so 2011 will be a year to make up for lost time.

What should we expect for electrics, hybrids and other green car technologies in 2011 and beyond? Pike Research, in cooperation with PluginCars.com and HybridCars.com, has identified 10 key trends that will steer the course of EVs for the rest of the decade. See these quick excerpts from the first five of our detailed white paper.

  1. The majority of people who drive a plug-in vehicle won't own it.

    Thanks to car rental fleets, taxis, and car share programs, getting people into plug-in vehicles will be more influential in the long run than getting them to sign on the dotted line.

  2. Automakers will get push back from EV owners about how long it takes vehicles to fully charge.

    Most vehicle charging will be done overnight, enabling owners to wake up to a fully charged battery without concern for the rate at which it was charged. But because automakers decided to take the cautious (and less expensive) approach of installing onboard charging equipment that provides a maximum of 3.3 kW to the batteries, a full charge will take longer than necessary leaving some consumers feeling like they overpaid for charging equipment.

  3. The most popular selling EVs won't have four wheels.

    Electric two-wheeled vehicles, including bicycles, scooters and motorcycles are a huge global market that will continue to overshadow electric passenger vehicles for the foreseeable future. China is by far the largest market, with more than 48 million sales projected. In North America, the sale of two-wheeled EVs will outnumber passenger PEVs by approximately 8:1 in 2011, but the gap will be narrowed to close to 2 to 1 by 2015 as passenger vehicles sales will grow much more quickly.

  4. Many EV charging stations will spend the majority of their time idle.

    The strategy of installing a network of charging equipment may be good psychologically for EV owners and the automakers, but the business benefit for the owners of charging equipment will be lacking during the early days of EV sales. During 2011 and 2012 there will not be sufficient penetration of EVs for charging spots to see many visits–if any—per day.

  5. Somebody somewhere will have a bad EV experience and the media will overreact.

    The first time a driver is left "stranded" by running out of charge will be cause célèbre for the doubters to highlight the superiority of gas cars. The potential also exists for EV owner frustration if the promised all-electric driving range advertised is not realized. Heavy-footed drivers and trips taken in extreme weather will substantially cut into driving efficiency, but that should not be a surprise or especially noteworthy.

  6. For the other five predictions and more details, including market forecasts, download the complete white paper, published in cooperation with PluginCars.com and HybridCars.com.


· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Under #5, someone will claim their EV is "shocking them" and is unable to control or touch the car as they make a long phone call to 911 down the san diego freeway... lol

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Yes they will, and it will probably turn out they work for BP...

· · 7 years ago

It is funny how 'a more than normal' amount of people is still stuck in the 2001-2008 'scare tactic' decade. A person would think that America has never built a car before that can get 742 MPG and that costs under $40,000.00, have no idea how to build a battery, have no idea how to build a electric motor that can get over 700 MPC, have no idea how to drive a vehicle, have no idea how to build a battery that can get more than 35 MPC and charge in less than 8 hours - about the same as MPG, and have no idea in how to go about buying a non-American electric vehicle that can get 350 MPC and can be charged to full in less than 15 minutes. We are a nation of greedy idiots and stupid morons. In 2008, I read a story in one of these auto magazines (I cannot remember which magazine now) about a hybrid that could get 7,682 MPG. What the hell ever happened to that vehicle?

Has American engineers been dumbed down so much that they don't know how to build a superior electric vehicle to the fossil fuel vehicles? I find that really, really hard to believe.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

So much criticism poured in for Hybrids in 1990's, you see now, Hybrids are selling in thousands and there are already 3 million micro hybrids.

If the cost of EVs starts declining like that of LCD TVs, things will change dramatically.
Ideally Taxis & Postal Vans can go for Plugins with 50 mile range, once the battery is depleted, it can be charged during the lunch time. That way another 50 miles could be covered by battery.

This time, the EVs will charge and fight back.

· · 7 years ago

#2. No need to hold all auto companies to the silly 3.3 charge rate that the leaf will offer. In 2011, I contend that more EVs will have at least 6kW charge rate than will have 3.3 or under. Just combine the Roadster and Rav4 numbers and you're well on your way.

#3. For some unknown reason, I think of an "EV" as a full-on, highway capable car that can replace a gasoline car for almost all situations. Calling electric bicycles and scooters "EVs" is a bit of a stretch for me. And if bikes and scooters are EVs, then they've been out-selling 4-wheel EVs for decades.

The start-stop thing... what does this have to do with EVs? That's only for gasolin cars of course.

· Rick Holm (not verified) · 7 years ago

Hi There,

I am in love with the new concept of EV's. I have been waiting for the EV revolution to come for a quite a few years now. I travel all day everyday for work. Sometimes just from city to city, but on occasion from state to state. I cannot get a fully electric vehicle to drive yet because of the short distances they can travel and the fact that I am not a homeowner and rent my apartment. Most of the EV's today require a charging station to be installed in your garage and you cannot do this in a rental unit. I have particular interest in the Chevy Volt at this time because of its ability to recharge itself on long trips with a small on-board gasoline generator. But I am torn about waiting for an EV that can travel for hundreds of miles without needing a recharge. I see this coming in a few years.

· · 7 years ago

Hi Rick. Great to hear your enthusiasm! Allow me to correct a couple of your assumptions, though.

You say that "most of the EVs today require a charging station to be installed." As there are just a small handful of EV options today, I'm not sure how many "most" is. At one time Nissan was insisting on an EVSE installation. I don't believe that is the case today. And the Volt certainly doesn't require one. So which EVs require this?

You say "you cannot do this in a rental unit." While this may be the case in your situation, I know for a fact that it is not universal. Many renters are installing EVSEs with their landlord's approval, and in some cases even with the landlord's FUNDS!

The Chevy Volt does not "recharge itself" with gasoline. The gasoline generator (which is actually too big - not as "small" as it should be!) attempts to maintain a small charge in the battery while powering the car after the battery is mostly consumed. The only way to recharge the battery pack is to plug it in (it is possible to slighly increase the charge by using mountain mode, but that's a different story).

Deciding to jump or wait is a tough one. Personally, I jumped over ten years ago!

· · 7 years ago

I definitely agree with #5. I'll take it one step further. I bet someone, at some time, purposely runs out of juice on a highway and backs up traffic. The media will be alerted and we'll see a the news chopper hovering over a LEAF that is dead in the middle of the road.
There are a lot of people out there that want EV's to fail and with this much money at stake, will probably try anything to scare people off.

· · 7 years ago

@Tom - sadly, I can see that too. The next day somebody will have a "unintended acceleration" event. See last year's Prius bit for an indication of how easy it is to destroy a reputation with no valid evidence.

· Priusmaniac (not verified) · 7 years ago

Wait a minute, perhaps we can figure out possible scenarios here. You know, a bit like al the worst cases that you can see in the movie “The lift”.
1) Stuck in the middle lane of a highway at peak traffic hour.
2) Stuck on a railroad crossing.
3) A police Leaf stuck right in the middle of a pursuit.
4) A Leaf stuck one mile from the emergency arrival of a hospital.
5) A Leaf stuck in the middle of a large traffic crossroad.
6) A lover that arrives to late at his romantic diner because stuck on the road.
7) A Jurassic Park stranded Leaf flattened by a T-rex dino.
8) A leaf being towed by a gas car.
9) A Leaf driver saved by firefighters from an onboard fire but killed by electrocution just after.
10) A “Johnny 5” style, getting alive Leaf running away
On the other way, it would also be fun to make the following positive shots:
1) A suicidal men trying to kill himself by turning on his Leaf in his closed garage.
2) A fuel station full of queuing people and a Leaf passing by.
3) A car inspection technician that must control the exhaust emission that doesn’t find it.
4) A Leaf driving through places where exhaust emissions usually don’t allow it. A surgeon’s room, a kitchen, a lobby.
5) A Leaf leaving the snow unspoiled by soot.
6) A Leaf driving on the Moon and the saying: “we go further”.
7) An add “quit smoking now, try the Leaf”.
8) A sexy lady on the car telling, “give me a jolt”.
9) A police Leaf surprising a thief by its quietness.
10) A Leaf underwater that keeps on driving.

· James Davis (not verified) · 7 years ago

"Priusmaniac", that is really good. I like the last ten better because the first ten is what they are doing now.

· · 7 years ago

Indeed, some of those are GREAT! For positive #4 we can just use the test drive that I had - in a ballroom!

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Family kept alive by being trapped in garage with Leaf running with its heater on.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

1 more fun stuff about LEAF

US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) giving the mileage of Leaf in MPG when it consumes no Gas.

It should have been Miles / Kwh.

· · 7 years ago

@Anonymous - the sticker gives the kWh information as well. The MPG number is a hard one to get away from since the general public has no idea what the equivalent energy is. Same problem we have with lightbulbs. We speak of brightness in "Watts" - and of course brightness has NOTHING to do with Wattage.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago


Educating the General Public is 1 of the jobs of Govt.
A person who is going to buy a Leaf will certainly know what kwh means.

Slowly the knowledge will spread and everyone will start talking in kwh.
Otherwise even in the year 2100, they will be talking in gallons.
Still we are talking in horsepower when the horses have gone a century ago.

· · 7 years ago

@ Anonymous -

Yes, your last line speaks volumes. Why are we still talking of light output in "Watts?" For that matter why are we still using inches, feet and yards in the USA!?

I'm not at all convinced that all Leaf buyers will know what a kWh means. And I say that from experience. A large percentage of the current "bleeding edge" Rav4EV drivers don't know what a kWh means. They don't even know the difference from a kW. If I tell an interested observer that my Rav holds 26 kWh of electricity, and that I can travel 100 miles, I'm more often than not met with a blank stare. Try asking a neighbor how many kWh their household uses on a monthly or yearly basis. But I if tell that interested observer that there are about 36 kWh in a gasoline, and that my car will go 100 miles on LESS energy than that... then there's a spark of interest.

My fear is that "gallon of gas equivalent" will be with us for a long, long time to come. So far the government has spent all kinds of time telling us that battery cars suck and that fuel cell cars are the shining future of transportation. The general public, for their part, does a GREAT job of resisting any sort of education. Tough to point fingers, really.

· Priusmaniac (not verified) · 7 years ago

It is always difficult to have something changing, especially as it has been around for a long time. For example, the horsepower is still used instead of the KW, but also the KWh is still used instead of the MJ. So, there should not be a change to miles/KWh from the miles/Gallon, but a change to Kilometers/MJ from miles/Gallon. It would take time getting used to, but that is normally the international unit to express the ratio of a distance versus an energy. Note that some people prefer the ratio of energy versus a distance, which would be MJ/Km or even J/m. This last one is for the Leaf about equal to 540 J/m.

· · 7 years ago

I am fully onboard with the energy/distance ratio with energy on the top... not like we do it in the use with distance on the top. In fact I find the orientation of this fraction more important than the actual units used. The purpose of this number is (well, should be in my world) to determine how much eneryg is used... not how far we can get.

· sean t (not verified) · 7 years ago

On this website some time ago, there was dissussion of l/100km or MPG (or fuel consumes per distance traveled or the other way around) and looked like l/100km is a better indication (but I don't remember the details, sorry). From that, energy/distance is a better way than distance/energy.

· · 7 years ago

This is the way I explain it on my site. No idea if it makes sense to anybody else...

Why is Gallons per 100 miles a better way to express efficiency than our current Miles per Gallon?

Using MPG to come to an arithmetic mean or total in quantity is erroneous. Adding two or more rates then dividing to get an average is incorrect. Example: Two vehicles - one getting 50 mpg and the other getting 20 mpg. Each driven the same distance (100 miles). They do not actually consume fuel at the 'apparent' average of the two; i.e. 35 mpg or 2.86 GPC (gallon per hundred miles).

The first vehicle uses 2.0 gal to go 100 mi while the second uses 5.0 gal to go 100 mi. Now those two numbers can be added and averaged to come to a 3.75 GPC 'true' average. Oops. That's a bit higher than the 2.86 GPC figured above, isn't it?

The auto makers will tell you something like this: "We have a truck that gets 18.0 mpg on average and an compact sedan that gets 40 mpg on average so our fleet mileage is 29 MPG!"

One is lead to believe that if the two different vehicles were each driven 100 miles that together they'd use 6.9 gal of fuel (200 / 29). When really the two vehicles use 5.6 gal and 2.5 gal respectively, or 8.1 gal together. That is an error of 18%! The US automakers don't want to change from the comfortable and well-known MPG system for obvious reasons. Our CAFE numbers are based on this incorrect math!

We "get" 50 miles per gallon. While we "use" 2 gallons to go 100 miles. This should be a consumption-based measure - how much gas we use to travel a certain distance.

· sean t (not verified) · 7 years ago

To my understanding, litre/km (or gallon per mile if you want) are used everywhere else out of the USA.

· · 7 years ago

Yup! And for the most part, so is the metric system. Why are we so backwards?

· · 7 years ago

darelldd, I am going to disagree with your preference for energy per distance units. I am not concerned with calculating averages for CAFE standards and the like. As I driver I want to know how far I can go on a unit of fuel. It isn't useful for me to know that my car uses 0.0303 gallons per mile if I am trying to figure how far I can go on five gallons. It is far easier to multiply 33 miles times five gallons and get 165 miles than it is to divide five by 0.0303. If you find no difference in doing those calculations, I suspect that you are very unusual.

It is also more useful for me to know that an EV gets, say, 3.8 miles per kwh than it is to report it as 0.263 kwh per mile. How far can I go if I have 15 kwh remaining? It is far easier for me to multiply 3.8 times 15 and get 57 than it is to divide 15 by 0.263. And I would guess that is true for most people.

As for the discussion about energy units, kwh versus joules, I prefer kwh because power companies have been measuring electricity usage that way for more than a century. I have a "feel" for the unit because I have seen it on my electricity bills for most of my life. I know, for example, that I use 4.2 kwh a day, on average, over a year to power my house. If my power cooperative had been reporting my usage in joules, or another unit, it would be different. Not that I couldn't get used to another unit, it is just more convenient to stick with the familiar one that I already have a "feel" for because I see it every month on my bill.

Unlike most people in this country, I am comfortable with the metric system, having used it for much of my life in my work. Even now, if I want to know the weight of a gallon of water, I have to convert it to metric (liters, kilograms) to calculate it—because I "know" that one ml of water weighs one gram—then convert it back into English units (gallons, pounds) since I "know" that 1 gal is ~3.7 liters and one kg is ~2.2 pounds. But what a nuisance to have to use those English units in the first place! However, I long ago gave up hoping that we would adopt the metric system as a country. Too many people have a "feel" for inches, feet, pounds, and degrees Fahrenheit, however impractical they are.

Yes, the kwh isn't as "clean" a unit as the SI joule, or Mjoule. But it is familiar and it is trivial to convert to joules (1 kwh = 3.6 Mjoules).

My 2¢.

· · 7 years ago

My preference has everything to do with energy efficiency. Or at least using energy wisely. Knowing the amount of energy used is more important (by far!) to me than the distance traveled on that (unaccounted for) amount of energy. I understand your desire and your reasoning.... and difference is good. But what we end up with is people bragging about how many mpg they get, regardless of how many miles they travel and amount of fuel they use. (Do you know that there are people... lots of them... who drive more miles and use more gas just to get a better mpg reading? Mostly in the Prius community). If the fraction is flipped over, suddenly the goal is to use less fuel, not to get more miles per (limitless, uncounted amount of ) fuel. And the CAFE gaming of the system is just another nail in the coffin for me.

> It is far easier to multiply 33 miles times five gallons and get 165 miles than it is to divide five by 0.0303.<
As I can't do either one of these quickly in my head, I have to say that they're equally "easy" on a calculator... or even long hand. Just like using the metric system without having to convert to our silly system - once you fully embrace energy/mile without the intermediate conversion, you may find it a superior system. Or not. Viva la difference.

· · 7 years ago

"Do you know that there are people... lots of them... who drive more miles and use more gas just to get a better mpg reading?"

No, I've never heard of such a thing. That's nuts!

I can and do calculate mileage in my head and would do the same with EV range estimates given SOC numbers. Trying to fuss with a calculator while driving is a distraction I can do without. (As a bicycle rider distracted drivers are a major fear of mine, an 18 year old girl here killed an on-coming driver while she was chatting on her cellphone...)

One thing that occurred to me after my post above is that a Megajoule is roughly one mile of range (~3.6 miles/kwh) for a typical small EV. That has me warming up to the idea of reporting battery storage in Mjoules.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

"Do you know that there are people... lots of them... who drive more miles and use more gas just to get a better mpg reading? Mostly in the Prius community"

don't know if that makes any sense... it may be people who own a prius tend to have longer commute, therefore it makes sense to drive a prius to save gas. in other words, the economic propensity favors high mileage drivers to buy a prius.

· · 7 years ago

Not what I meant. And I realize that this is not an easy concept for everybody to grasp. Personally I was floored when I realized what was happening. Here's an example:

A Prius driver has a high-speed 15 mile commute to work on the freeway. Gets 45 mpg when he takes that route. He has the option of taking slower back roads where he can pulse and glide - getting 55 mpg. But that route is 23 miles. When he goes the longer way, at the end of the day he's thrilled that his display shows 55 mpg. He brags about how little gas his car uses. But of course he's used more gas doing what gets him the higher miles/gallon. When getting 45 mpg at 15 miles he's only used .33 gallons. When getting 55 mpg at 23 miles he's used .42 gallons each way.

I'm not making this up. It happens. All we hear about is miles per gallon. We don't hear how many gallons are used.

So when mpg is the almighty goal, we end up ignoring the total amount of gas used in favor of how many gallons per unrestricted miles. The goal should be to use fewer gallons regardless of miles - and that contest is easier to manage when gallons is at the top of the equation, and miles at the bottom.

· · 7 years ago

I should have followed up with how the real numbers look just for some closure.

The 55 mpg trip returns 33 gallons/100 miles and
the 45 mpg trip returns 42 gallons/200 miles

So it is quite obvious that the trip that gets the better traditional "mpg" number uses more gasoline. If all you know is the mpg, and ignore the distances (for easier math) you don't know which saves you the most gas.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

that's a good example. people, including the transportation engineers, are constantly faced with efficiency (value) vs absolute consumption.

another good example is buying at big box stores. people buys more than what they need only to get better value per item. but at the end of the day the unused portion is wasted.

these are not obvious choices for drivers, especially when other factors such as travel time are thrown into place. the optimum choice depends who's looking at the problem.

· · 7 years ago

Oh mean. Teaches me to post fast and not take the time to read what I wrote! And since I can't edit, I'll just hope that most will disregard above and read down here!

My follow-up post should have read:

The 55 mpg trip returns 42 gallons/100 miles and
the 45 mpg trip returns 33 gallons/100 miles

The point, of course, is that in this case the trip that got better mpg will use more gasoline to get the same job done. We need to define the number of miles travelled - something that the mpg figure completely disregards.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

I do agree that energy/distance will encourage people driving less and driving more efficient cars. It's very hard to change a habit, even it's bad.

· +N (not verified) · 7 years ago

Well, kinda:
#1: Hardly. Fleet use outside closed campus implies range and long work hours - not traits of current offerings
#2: Range anxiety is likely. But any early adopters will get into the deal knowing the range.
#3: Unlikely. People can save gas today if they ride a 50cc moped, but don't. 2 wheel electrics for real city/highway use will have severe range issues and the savings over gas are measly.
#4: Right. By definition, early adopters know the range limits and will arrange their travel to get back home /work for a charge.
#5: Of course! Rumors from large vested interest would fuel these stories too..

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.