One of the true benefits of the past two weeks is that I have not received my usual 50 or so e-mails in my three different e-mail accounts, which means that I have had time to do some reading and recalibrating of the themes for my 2011 coverage. I've already blabbed on about my hopes for the solar industry. While I was on the PikeResearch site last week, I also came across two great research reports that I'll dissect today and tomorrow. The first is their predictions for the commercial viability of electric vehicle market in 2011.
There are 10 electric vehicle (EV) themes explored altogether, in PikeResearch's "Electric Vehicles: 10 Predictions for 2011" report. I've picked out the five that have me most intrigued. I highly recommend that you download the executive summary of the report for more details on each of these themes, along with the five that I haven't mentioned. It is "free" except for the fact that you will need to register.
- "The majority of people who drive a plug-in vehicle won't own it." What exactly does this mean? Pike believes that most consumers will receive their first exposure to electric vehicles through rental car programs with the likes of Avis, Hertz and Enterprise, which are all testing beginning to include electric or hybrid electric vehicles in their fleets. The other place you're likely to get your first electric cruise is in a taxi-cab in places including London, New York, Tokyo and San Francisco.
- "Automakers will get pushback from EV owners regarding the length of time it takes to fully charge a vehicle." Let's be honest: you and I don't like waiting for anything, let alone having to twiddle your thumb while your vehicle charges. Pike Research makes the point that none of the initial wave of consumer vehicles -- the Nissan Leaf, the Chevrolet Volt or the Mitsubishi I-MiEV -- can use the Level II charging standard, which lets you charge the vehicle in a few hours rather than overnight.
- "Many EV charging stations will spend the majority of their time idle." There are a number of public places -- including retail shopping malls and gas stations -- that are beginning to invest in charging infrastructure. But during the next couple of years, the owners of that real estate are unlikely to see much demand, because PikeResearch predicts that most of them will charge their vehicles at home plus the penetration won't be all that deep anyway. So, investors aren't likely to see much revenue from those installations.
- " 'Range anxiety' will prove to be more fiction than fact." The biggest FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) factor associated with EVs to date has been related to the notion that people can't travel very far in them before needing a recharge. But PikeResearch notes that most drivers travel 30 miles or less per day, so the notion that this will be an obstacle may be overblown. The PikeResearch analysts write: "Knowing how far you can drive before you need to refuel is a skill that all car operators have mastered, and EV ownership will be no different."
- "The best-selling EVs won't have four wheels." This one has particular interest for me, because, realistically, I'm not in the market for a new car for a few years. PikeResearch notes that the EV category includes bicycles, scooters and motorcycles, which are expected to generate an appreciable growth in global sales over the next few years. For example, PikeResearch predicts there will be more than 53 million two-wheeled vehicles sold in the Asia Pacific region in 2011. During the next 12 month, sales for two-wheeled electric vehicles will outpace those of passenger cars by 8 to 1. In that market, e-bikes will represent 97 percent of all EV sales during 2011.