A recently released annual report on hybrid vehicles by auto industry analysts at JP Morgan Chase indicates that the next decade will see hybrid presence in the world automotive market soar -- and reach nearly 20 percent penetration in at least two key countries. Accelerated by ever more stringent emission and fuel-economy requirements, their presence is projected to rise from the current sub-500,000 unit annual sales to nearly 11.3 million. According to the 88-page research study, hybrids will account for about 13.3 percent of global vehicle sales, up from 0.7 percent in 2008. However, these high-efficiency vehicles are projected to snare 19.4 percent of total sales in the U.S. and take an 18.8 percent share in Japan.
Beyond any legal issues, the rising popularity of hybrids will also be spurred on by their increasing affordability as the cost of motors and batteries continue to drop. The JP Morgan data indicate that while the electric side of the hybrid equation added nearly $5,700 to the cost of a vehicle last year, that figure will dip to less than $3,500 in 2009 and fall below the $2,000 level by 2020. So far, the most compelling real-world evidence of that trend is the arrival of the new 2010 Honda Insight which became the first hybrid model to crack the sub-$20K pricepoint.