Electric car sales exceeding expectations

Recent figures from research firm IHS Automotive suggest that global electric car sales are exceeding all industry expectations.

Despite initial struggles in the market, the company found electric vehicles are being sold at a faster rate than hybrid cars nearly 15 years ago.

The green car option is a growing concept for many businesses looking to reduce their fleet fuel consumption and lowering their emission rate.

Just four years after its introduction, IHS found that cumulative sales of the Nissan Leaf EV were close to 100,000 and 70,000 for the Chevrolet Volt/Ampera plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

This is considerably more than the original hybrid - the Toyota Prius - which, in its fourth year of production (2004), had only sold 52,000 models. Together, the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt/Ampera vehicles have outsold the Prius more than three times over.

Analyst for IHS Automotive Ben Scott said the figures were encouraging considering the electric vehicle (EV) market is still in its early stages.

"Most EV drivers still own their first-generation electric vehicles. Furthermore, there have been insufficient product offerings to effectively legitimise the market and show to consumers that EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) represent the way of the future," he said.

Mr Scott does concede however that despite the gains, progress is slower than expected.

With more individual countries looking at incentives and tax breaks for green car users, this could be a way of promoting the models. When the Toyota Prius was introduced, there was no inducements or major initiatives for businesses to invest in hybrid vehicles.

IHS highlights the PHEV as a real growth point in the industry with Mr Scott explaining why the vehicles are a good alternative.

"Motorists like the safety and freedom to travel for longer distances without being constrained by charging intervals," he said.