What's the precise number of electrified vehicles that will be sold globally between 2012 and 2020?

Well, if you posed that question to clean energy analyst firm Navigant Research, then the answer would be 22 million.

Perhaps by 2020, the Chevy Volt Will Look Like This Again

Perhaps by 2020, the Chevy Volt Will Look Like This Again

Unfortunately, Navigant doesn't break out predictions for plug-in vehicles, but rather lumps all electrified automobiles (including conventional hybrids) into one single category in its latest report titled "Electric Vehicle Market Forecasts."

But here's what Navigant says:

"While sales of electric vehicles have not met the expectations of governments and automakers, they continue to expand steadily.  Both plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) have become widely available in Asia Pacific, North America, and Western Europe, and are being introduced in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.  According to a recent report from Navigant Research, a total of 21.9 million EVs will be sold worldwide during the period from 2012 to 2020."

See how Navigant refers to EVs here as both PEVs and HEVs?

What will drive growth of "EVs?" Again, we turn to the words of Navigant, but this time it's Dave Hurst, principal research analyst with Navigant Research, who does the talking:

"The average price of fuel for conventional vehicles will likely continue to rise through the remainder of this decade, driving demand for electric vehicles.  Government policy, in terms of purchase incentives, emissions regulations, fuel taxes, and fuel economy rules, will also play a strong role in the expansion of the EV market."

Finally, we close with the only statement made by Navigant in this report that directly relates to plug-in vehicles, with no mention of those conventional hybrids:

"Electric vehicles sales will grow at a much more rapid pace than the overall automotive market.   While the overall auto market will expand only 2 percent a year through 2020, sales of plug-in EVs will grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 40 percent over the remainder of the decade.  Nevertheless, by 2020, PEVs will still make up only a small fraction of annual light-duty vehicle sales – less than 2 percent, the study concludes."