I often play a little game as I am driving my kids to school in my used Nissan Leaf: How many plug-in vehicles can I spot on the road? This morning, I was a little taken aback. In the space of a 20 minute drive, I saw twelve Nissan Leafs, several Chevy Volts, a Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the faintest glimpse of a Tesla Model S on the highway.
That's pretty impressive for North Carolina, where just a year or two ago I'd be surprised to spot a single plug-in vehicle.
I suspect it's only just the beginning, though. And Business Green reports on a survey that may just prove me right: Apparently, in a survey of 43,000 people across 52 different countries, a full 40% of people considering a purchase in the next five years would consider an electric vehicle.
The survey, by Dalia Research, also suggests to me that these figures may be on the low side—because many of those questioned were more aware of the environmental benefits than the very real benefits in terms of maintenance and running costs. As prices for electric vehicles come down, as charging infrastructure becomes more commonplace, and as more people are exposed to people with real-world experience of driving an electric vehicle (workplaces being a great place for this to happen), I would not be at all surprised to see a majority of drivers shifting rapidly toward electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle options.
On a separate but related note, I also expect my "game" to become a whole lot trickier. With a growing number of vehicles offering plug-in options—including the upcoming Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid—distinguishing between electrified vehicles and their gas-powered counterparts may get harder. It's what Kyle Field over at Cleantechnica refers to as the rise of the stealth plug-in. It turns out that he too likes to play the count-the-plug-in game, but that it's getting harder to do because of both the sheer number of vehicles out there and the increasing normalcy of their outward appearance.
Maybe we should move on to spotting well designed pedestrian and cycling infrastructure instead...