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TheStreet Open House

Electric Car Demand Could Dwarf Supply

Therefore, as a baseline scenario, we should be able to say with some confidence that as soon as electric car awareness spreads, even without a meaningful public charging infrastructure, U.S. demand for all-electric cars should be about 3 million units a year (a majority of 5 million multi-car households). Even if we too-generously include the Chevrolet Volt into the equation, this means that in 2011 we will have a 100:1 demand/supply imbalance based on these two cars.

Clearly, the supply of all-electric cars will increase rapidly as we move into 2012 and beyond. Nissan has announced that by the end of 2013 it will be making 500,000 Leafs per year, about 200,000 of which will be made in the U.S. Indeed, 2013, will be the year when almost every other significant car manufacturer will enter volume production (more than 10,000 units a year), although there is very little precision to the 2013 numbers outside Nissan.

By 2013, the U.S. will also have a very well-developed charging infrastructure for plug-in electric cars. Already today, most any establishment in control of a few parking spaces is looking to install chargers: hotels, malls, fast-food joints, parking garages, office buildings, apartment buildings, you name it. It is not inconceivable that the U.S. alone may have more than 100 million electric car chargers installed or in planning by 2013. The low cost of these installations (well below $10,000 apiece), and the simplicity of the environmental requirements, should mean that already in 2012 we will have many more electric car chargers installed than traditional gasoline/diesel fueling establishments.

Therefore, by the end of 2013, the U.S. should be seeing the demand for all-electric cars by single-car households go from near-zero to at least 10% to 15% of that part of the market, with plenty of upside potential as people realize they can plug in their cars almost anywhere they stop. All in all, by 2013-2014, therefore, the U.S. alone should drive demand for about 4 million all-electric cars a year.

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