Drivers around the world could be buying 3.8million electric and hybrid cars every year according to a new report.
Although the slow take-up of the vehicles has forced some to scoff at the idea of a road revolution, American researchers believe high petrol prices will change this by the end of the decade.
Dave Hurst, senior research analyst at Pike Research said: “Sales of EVs have not lived up to automakers’ expectations and politicians’ proclamations but the market is expanding steadily as fuel prices remain high and consumers increasingly seek alternatives to internal combustion engines.”
He said sales of plug-in electric cars will grow at a rate of nearly 40% a year over the rest of the decade, while the overall auto market will expand by only 2%.
At the moment hybrid cars are far more popular but this could change too, claims the research, predicting more electric cars will have been sold in most regions because of fuel costs and bigger urban areas.
Pike Research expects the total number of battery-powered cars on the road will hit 4.4 million compared with 3.4 million hybrids.
However in North America and Latin America hybrid cars should be more popular because they are less densely covered with cities. Japan, the United States and China are expected to be the largest markets for hybrid cars by 2020, states the report, with Japan accounting for between 45% and 50% of the global hybrid and electric market.