By Drew Johnson
Thursday, Feb 2nd, 2012 @ 4:34 pm
Only a handful of car makers currently sell electric vehicles, but a new study finds that 45 automakers will be competing in the global electric vehicle market by 2015.

According to IHS, 45 automakers will be selling about 75 different electric vehicle models by the year 2015. IHS predicts those 75 models will account for between 700,000 and 1 million cumulative EV sales by mid-decade.

Beyond 2015 IHS foresees tremendous EV growth due to heightened demand in the Chinese market. Already the world's largest auto market, China is expected to become the largest buyer of electric vehicles, driving competition between domestic and local automakers. That competition should lead to lower EV prices, which will benefit consumers in other global markets.

Although IHS is bullish about the growth of the EV market, the research firm does see a few hurdles in the road.

Infrastructure remains a looming obstacle for mainstream EV use, due in large part to the high costs associated with EV charging stations. A lack of standardization could also slow the adoption of electric vehicles.

Battery technology remains the weakest part of the electric vehicle, and that is expected to remain true for several more years. That issue of battery technology and range could ultimately skew the industry's focus, with some automakers sticking to pure electrics while others move to range-extending electric vehicles.

But between global concerns for fuel economy, energy dependence and CO2 emissions, the shift to electric technology will be all but inevitable.

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