THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

May 20, 2014, 9:43 AM ET
The Biggest Markets for Natural-Gas and Electric Vehicles

 

ROBERT RAPIER: Globally, the market for natural-gas vehicles (NGVs) has been growing
exponentially for the past decade. The U.S. has about 140,000 NGVs on the roads today, but
there are more than 18 million NGVs world-wide. The leading countries for NGV vehicles are
Iran with 3.5 million, Pakistan with 2.8 million, Argentina with 2.3 million, Brazil with 1.8 million,
and China with 1.6 million. With millions of vehicles on the roads, NGVs have made substantial
inroads globally, but have been slower to be adopted in the US.


Globally, the fleet of electric vehicles is much smaller, but it is growing rapidly. The U.S. has the
largest fleet at about 200,000 vehicles. The global fleet of electric vehicles has been estimated
to be about 350,000 vehicles, but growth rates in the triple and high double-digits have been
reported in the Netherlands (338%), Norway (129%), Germany (105%) and the U.S. (81%).


Fleet penetration for electric vehicles in the U.S. stands at about 0.6%. Thus, if the rapid growth
rates of recent years continue, the U.S. could have respectable penetration of electric vehicles
in 10 years. Hybrid vehicles saw relatively slow sales in early years, but much higher gasoline
prices boosted sales which have now topped 3 million vehicles less than 15 years after initially
being introduced.


Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, on the other hand, are unlikely to see widespread adoption within
10 years. There are simply too many outstanding technical issues, and costs remain
substantially too high for widespread consumer acceptance.


Robert Rapier (@RRapier) is chief technology officer and executive vice president at Merica
International, a forestry and renewable energy company. He serves as managing editor
for Energy Trends Insider and is chief investment strategist for Investing Daily’s Energy
Strategist service.


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