With several big electric vehicle launches due over the next few years and order books filling up quickly, we're sure to start seeing more of them on the roads.

Research agency Pike Research has announced that combined sales of full-electric (battery electric, or BEV) vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) will take off over the next five years to hit 3.2 million units by 2015.

These large numbers are partly down to the assumption that China will be a massive adopter of electric vehicles in the years to come. EVs are being championed over there to compensate for the poor air quality in some of the larger cities. China are expected to have 880,000 new electric vehicles sold by 2015, making up 27 percent of global EV sales.

The United States will a close second, Pike predicting that up to 841,000 EVs and PHEVs will be sold in the next five years, accounting for 26 percent of the global EV market.

Senior analyst at Pike Research, Dave Hurst, thinks that "PHEVs and BEVs will complement, rather than displace, the market for conventional hybrid electric vehicles".

PHEVs of course offer the advantage of greater electric-only range than regular hybrids, and the benefits have a disproportionate effect on your fuel use on short journeys - ten miles of pure electric running in a plug-in Prius doubles the regular Prius EV-only range.

Two headline-making EVs should be on the roads near you soon - Chevrolet's 2011 Volt has just begun production and orders are now being taken for the 2011 Nissan Leaf, too.