August 27, 2009

How quickly can Plug-in hybrids grow?

I was struck by a recent EPRI Projection of 100M PHEVs by 2030. EPRI is the technical arm of the electrical utility industry - clearly they take PHEVs seriously.

Some people wonder if GM is serious about the Volt, and whether it can increase production quickly. Here's a hint: GM is building a dedicated battery assembly plant, with a capacity of about 100,000 battery packs per year, to be finished in time for the planned unveiling in November of 2010.

But won't most people wait until a recession, or some crisis, before they do something like buying an electric vehicle?

I think that the most important way to prepare for Peak Oil is electric transportation. This includes hybrids and plug-in hybrids (including Extended Range EVs like the Chevy Volt and Plug-in Hybrid EVs like a plug-in Prius) of various sorts.

It looks to me like the US and China are doing moderately well in ramping up hybrids and EREVs and PHEVs: the Chevy Volt will be ready for large production volumes in 2011, and a wide range of PHEVs and EVs is coming in the next several years, from almost all of the major car makers. Also, I think enough early-adopters are out there to allow these vehicles to ramp up to pretty large production volumes, putting them only a few years away from being the primary mode. So, I think that when mainstream buyers are ready, the electric vehicles will pretty much be there.

What about an emergency?

Production can be increased very quickly in an emergency. The Classic Example is World War II airplane production, which grew in 4.5 years from 6,000 per year to 9,000 per month!

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