Electric-drive vehicles

Like resolutions and watered down drinks, the coming of the New Year is the time for industry predictions, and tech-research firm Pike Research didn't disappoint when it comes to what it says is in store for the electric-drive vehicle market for 2013.

With more than 200,000 plug-ins estimated to be sold globally next year, Pike made 10 predictions for 2013. Top of the list? That investment funds will flow from makers of battery packs to makers of battery components, that North American electric-bike sales will jump more than 50 percent and that automakers will start using 48-volt batteries for their cars' start-stop systems.

There are more predictions, some safer than others. Pike says global hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle sales will more than double to more than 3,400 units in 2013, while the strategy of leasing out electric-vehicle batteries instead of selling them outright to the customer (used by Renault and Smart in some markets) will spread to other automakers. Germany will play catch-up in terms of electric-drive sales, more companies will invest in coasting technology, the debate between proponents of fast vs. standard vehicle-charging stations will continue, European countries will collaborate on communicating where charging stations are throughout the continent and the glut in natural gas will hurt demand for plug-in trucks.

We're pretty sure sales figures will continue to climb in 2013, just as they did in 2012 compared to 2011. Through November of this year, automakers sold more than 43,000 plug-in vehicles in the US, almost three times as many as 2011. Where do you think we're headed?