​Electric Vehicles Conference Highlights Aircraft, Buses and Taxis

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March 29, 2012

When the term “electric vehicles” is used in the United States it usually means cars like the Nissan Leaf or Tesla’s forthcoming Model S sedan, and there’s a conference going on right now about it. The global market for electric vehicles includes not just cars but also aircraft, bicycles, buses, taxis, industrial and commercial vehicles, marine craft, golf carts and motorcycles.

The Silicon Republican reports that the entire market of electric vehicles is being highlighted this week at Electric Vehicles Land, Sea & Air, an industry conference that opened Tuesday in San Jose, California, and continues through Thursday.

The conference organizer is IDTechEx, a research and consulting firm, estimates that about 1.6 million electric cars, including hybrid vehicles, will be sold worldwide this year. But the total number of all types of EVs sold will be far greater — more than 39 million. Many of those will be e-bikes, vehicles for the disabled and industrial and commercial vehicles like hybrid forklifts and delivery trucks.

“A lot of electric vehicle conferences obsess about cars,” said Peter Harrop, chairman of IDTechEx. “But if you’re in green technology, you have to look at the big picture. The world is going off the car — we’ve reached ‘Peak Car’ in most cities.”

And while China has a booming car market, it also has 125 million electric bikes in use, Harrop added.

He noted that young people, armed with mobile phones, are increasingly turning away from cars in favor of walking, cycling or public transit because driving interferes with texting and use of social media. As electric buses replace older diesel buses in several countries, ridership is going up.”America is shaped by the car, but when you drive through Beijing you see electric scooters everywhere,” said David Salguero of San Francisco-based Mission Motors, which makes components for electric motorcycles. “The two-wheel market is a big market.”

Startup Ryno Motors, of Oregon, has created a one-wheeled electric scooter and markets.

itself as “solving short distance commuting challenges.” The 140-pound vehicle, scheduled to go into production in 2013, is small enough to bring on trains and subways.”This is an electric competitor to Segway,” said CEO Chris Hoffman. “It’s meant for the Segway market that Segway never fully exploited.”

Many larger electric vehicles, like aircraft and marine robots, were not on display at the conference, which is being held at San Jose’s Doubletree Hotel. But Harrop of IDTechEx said the military is actively developing electric vehicles for the armed forces.