By Ronan Glon
Tuesday, Jan 24th, 2012 @ 11:40 am
 
In the United States, electric vehicles make up a small portion of the auto market, and are slowly catching on at best. On the other hand, the sales of hybrid vehicles have been strong since the first models were imported from Japan about a decade ago.

The situation is a little different in China, where the government is struggling to deal with massive air pollution problems in several of the country's big cities. To cope with the issue, it has recently introduced hefty bonuses and incentives to encourage consumers to buy more cars that run on alternative energy.

According to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, in 2011 Chinese automakers sold 5,655 electric cars and 2,713 hybrids. That is a tiny portion compared to the 14.5 million cars sold in China that year, but it is a sign that Chinese consumers are skipping hybrids altogether and going straight to electric cars.

Analysts at research firm Pike Research predict that the Asia-Pacific region will overtake the U.S. as the leader in electric mobility over the next decade. In 2017, 617,000 electric cars are expected to be sold there, almost twice the expected number in North America.

This disparity is partly due to the fact that a lot of consumers in the Asia-Pacific region already have an electric bicycle and/or scooter in their household. For them, going from a gasoline-powered car to an electric car is less drastic of a change than for consumers in the United States and in Europe, who have always been accustomed to gas-powered transports.