It's rare that I'll leave the house these days without seeing at least one or two plug-in electric vehicles on the roads. And that's in addition to the one parked in my driveway and the other over the road at my neighbor's house. New figures—reported by James Ayre over at Cleantechnica—would suggest this is not a figment of my imagination:
Worldwide plug-in electric vehicle sales grew 50% in the first half of 2016, compared to the first half of 2015.
As Ayre notes, that rate is roughly ten times the 5% growth of the overall automotive market, including light commercial sales! But what's impressive to me is not necessarily the rapid growth rate in itself—it's relatively easy to grow at fast rates when you are starting from near zero—but rather that these rates are happening at a time when there are very few electric options on the market, and the ones that are suffer from "shortcomings" in terms of either range, price, or cargo capacity, at least as far as your average consumer is concerned.
Still, I've just received an email from someone who recently bought a plug-in hybrid Volvo and is now seriously considering a Tesla, because he is just so bummed when the diesel engine kicks in. And I received another email from a friend who borrowed my Nissan LEAF and now can't stop seeing gas emissions every time he is out on the road. It feels like there's enthusiasm building for a truly electrified transportation network.
Now imagine what happens when electric cars are affordable to middle income households, when they get a decent range, and when they come in configurations that can handle cargo delivery, public transportation or larger families.
We may find that 50% annual growth was just the beginning...