BOULDER, Colo. — According to Pike Research, the use of hybrid electric vehicles is expected to catch on with fleets over the next five years, with sales increasing from 300,000 units in 2009 to more than 830,000 in 2015.
Cumulative sales of hybrid vehicles to the fleet sector should total about 4 million units worldwide between 2009 and 2015, according to the Colorado-based research firm’s recent report, "Hybrid Electric Vehicles for Fleet Markets."
"The biggest growth categories for fleet hybrids are medium/heavy-duty trucks and buses," said Clint Wheelock, managing director. "Manufacturers are beginning to turn their attention beyond light-duty vehicles to the efficiency opportunities for hybrid drive in heavy trucks. For example, in North America nearly 10 percent of buses sold in 2015 will be hybrids."
Hybrid technology is an ideal fit for trucks, as plug-in hybrid electric vehicle drivetrains can be easily installed on trucks because of the wide variety of customization in the trucks after the chassis and drivetrain are assembled, the report said. However, trucks will require much larger capacity batteries, which means higher costs.
According to the report, North America will lead the globe in terms of fleet adoption of hybrids, with hybrids reaching 8 percent of all fleet sales by 2015. Early adopters are expected to include government, university and utility company fleets.
The study also points to the fact that as internal combustion engine vehicles become more fuel efficient, it will be more difficult for fleet managers to make a business case for hybrids, which have higher acquisition costs.