Frost & Sullivan Predicts Boom in Extended-Range Electric Vehicles

By · February 06, 2013

Chevy Volt

eREVs will soon become so popular that at least 14 different models from major OEMs will available by 2018, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Frost & Sullivan, the market analyst firm, says there is only one extended-range electric vehicle (eREV) on the market today, but in five years there will be 14 cars that operate like the Chevy Volt. As a result, annual sales of eREVs will exceed 300,000 units globally by 2018.

“Range extender technologies overcome the major challenge of range anxiety and extended times taken to charge, by generating onboard electricity with the help of different technologies such as internal combustion engine, fuel cell stack and micro-gas turbine,” explained Prajyot Sathe, a research associate at Frost & Sullivan. “This is fueling the trend toward plug-in hybrids and eREVs."

Sathe includes plug-in hybrids (which also overcome range anxiety) in this statement, but curiously Frost & Sullivan focused its forecast on eREVs like the Chevy Volt—rather than the field of plug-in hybrids with more of a blended approach, such as the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Ford C-Max Energi and Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid. The Frost press release states, “An eREV consumes very little fuel, as the primary function of an internal combustion engine or fuel cell or micro-gas turbine is recharging the battery, rather than powering the wheels. Therefore, the extra miles are added at minimal cost.”

Many of the so-called blended plug-in hybrids have driver controls to allow for the use of electricity, gas or both—depending on driver needs. Even conventional hybrids increasingly are allowing for longer periods of all-electric range at higher speeds. This begs the question why Frost believes that eREVs rather than plug-in hybrids with relatively smaller batteries will become the market leader, especially considering that plug-in hybrids appear to be more cost effective (or at least lower priced) than the Chevy Volt.

In recent months, combined sales of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and Ford C-Max Energi have essentially matched those of the Chevy Volt. In the coming months, the Accord PHEV and Ford Fusion Energi will begin sales in earnest, so that sales of plug-in hybrids in the U.S. will surpass the Volt, as the only eREV on the market. General Motors will introduce the Cadillac ELR as a low volume eREV in 2014, but few (if any) eREVs are on the horizon—while companies offering conventional hybrids can more easily add a larger battery and plug to turn hybrid models into plug-in hybrids. This suggests more growth in the PHEV rather than the eREV market.

Nonetheless, Frost & Sullivan says that by 2018, eREVs will include internal combustion engine range extenders, fuel cell range extenders and micro-gas turbine range extenders—with 77 percent of the eREV segment functioning similar to the Volt.

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