A new study finds that automakers will be changing direction when it comes to vehicle electrification – less focus on electric vehicles and more emphasis on hybrids. Industry consultant Dr. Menahem Anderman interviewed automakers and battery makers and is forecasting electric vehicles, plug in hybrid electric vehicles and hybrids will see growth through 2020, with hybrids taking the lion's share.

The report is forecasting that global EV sales will grow from 65,000 units in 2012 to 450,000 in 2020, PHEVs will sell 57,000 units in 2012 and 750,000 in 2020 and regular gas-electric hybrids will reach 1.57 million units in 2012 and about 4.1 million in 2020.

Lithium ion batteries will power the electrification for all three categories. Anderman's xEV Industry Insider Report says that the li-ion automotive battery business will skyrocket from $1.4 billion in 2012 sales to $8.5 billion in 2020.

Heavy subsidies by governments and automakers haven't helped EV sales get to where they were expected to be in 2012, while hybrid sales are more in line with industry estimates. The future doesn't look all that much brighter. The report projects that EVs and PHEVs will only make up 0.6 percent of anticipated 2016 vehicle sales. Anderman expects opportunities to emerge for hybrid batteries and vehicles through various functionalities, voltages, power levels and energy-storage capacities.

The short version of the problem is that, the higher the level of electrification, the more problematic the cost/performance ratio of the vehicles. This explains weak customer demand, the report says. Right now, government policies are having a critical impact on electrification, especially from California's Zero Emission Vehicle regulation, Europe's tailpipe CO2 regulation, and China's "new energy vehicle" rules.

Dr. Anderman's report is based on on-site interviews with senior battery technologists and business development executives at 15 global automakers and 25 of their current and prospective battery suppliers. Anderman consults with automakers, battery companies and related stakeholders regularly in his role as founder and chairman of the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference. The 13th annual conference is scheduled to start February 4, 2013, in Pasadena, CA.

While business looks bright for li-ion battery makers, a shake-out is expected soon with a smaller number of players left standing. Strategy consultancy Roland Berger updated his 2010 report in October on the li-ion business, warning that only six to eight global players in the rechargeable battery business would survive through 2017. The updated version of the report states that the process of consolidation in the li-ion battery market is progressing even faster than initially expected.