Introduction of new hybrid and electric CUVs and SUVs will bolster sales volumes
US retail sales of light-duty hybrid and electric vehicles (LD HEVs) are forecast to advance 4.9% annually in unit terms through 2024, according to Freedonia Focus Reports.
Gains will be supported by the rising number of models for consumers to choose from at increasingly comprehensive price points. The introduction of more HEV crossovers (also called CUVs) and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) will also drive growth, as US consumers generally prefer larger vehicles. Advances on that front will be spurred by the virtuous cycle of lithium-ion battery price decline as electric vehicle demand increases, owing to economies of scale. Growth will also be supported by lengthening charge intervals, ongoing efforts to deploy or expand existing charging and fueling infrastructure, government subsidies and incentives, clean energy programs, and growing concerns regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as air quality and vehicle emissions in city centers.
At the same time, light HEVs will continue to face strong functional competition from comparable conventional light vehicles, which generally have lower upfront costs and are becoming increasingly fuel efficient, reducing the financial fuel savings advantage of LD HEVs, hybrid vehicles in particular.
LD HEV sales in 2020 are expected to slip 20% below 2019 levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Widespread economic uncertainty owing to high unemployment will dampen consumer confidence, leading to a downturn in purchases of big-ticket durable goods, including LD HEVs. Demand in 2020 will also be somewhat supply-constrained due to state-mandated factory closures.
Mild hybrids are considered a type of full hybrid for the purposes of this report. Excluded from the scope of this report are micro hybrids, in which vehicle propulsion is generated from an internal combustion engine but some technological features found in hybrid vehicles – specifically start-stop systems – are used to improve fuel economy. Because these vehicles do not use an electric motor for propulsion, they fall outside the scope of this report.