Plug-in car market yet to spark

July 18 2018  

Plug-in car market yet to spark
Electric car sales remain poor because of constrained supply rather than low customer demand, according to a sustainable mobility campaigner who addressed the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership annual conference on Thursday.
Greg Archer, a director of Transport & Environment – a European membership group promoting cleaner travel policies – said electric vehicles “are still being manufactured in very small volumes and sold as niche products” which is partly to blame, he added, for these cars being “too expensive”.
He also claimed that some car dealers are “dismissive of electric vehicles” due to a lack of incentives to sell them, and because they may offer less opportunity for servicing and repair compared to petrol and diesel vehicles.
Greg Archer also said there is almost no marketing of electric vehicles. “The car industry is not trying to persuade people to buy electric cars at the present time. I’m convinced that when the industry turns its phenomenal marketing and advertising skills to try and sell electric vehicles we will see a transformation in this market.”
But he added that this transformation is not likely to be far away, due to emission regulations in 2020 and 2021 which will “finally start to bite” and be more challenging than previous targets set in 2015. As a result the industry will need to start selling electric vehicles in more significant numbers, he said.
“We expect to see around 5 to 7% of plug-in vehicles being sold by 2021, going up to 10% by 2022. In the new few years we will go from 20 or 30 battery electric models up to around 60 in 2020 and over 100 by 2021.”
Within six to nine months from now, he predicted, “the attitude of the car industry” towards promoting electric vehicles “will switch to being much more constructive and positive”.
The National Franchised Dealers Association, which represents car and commercial vehicle dealers, said there is currently a very limited range of electric vehicle models available and these are much more expensive than their comparable internal combustion engine vehicles.
Its director Sue Robinson added: “Considering the number of apparent challenges, it is clear that dealers are making huge efforts to sell these cars with fairly encouraging results, although the market remains very small. Despite the proactive efforts to promote the uptake of these vehicles, overall, retailers need to respond to consumer demand.”
She added: “To overcome confusion and misinformation about plug-in vehicles, NFDA will soon publish a guide created in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Zap-Map. The guide will be used by dealers to inform consumers and ensure that they have accurate facts and information to select their next car”.
Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders chief executive Mike Hawes said that the vehicle industry shares the goal of zero emission transport and is investing billions in developing, supplying and promoting new technologies.

“Vehicle manufacturers will increasingly offer electrified versions of their vehicles giving consumers ever more choice, but industry cannot dictate the pace of change and market demand,” he said.

“Uptake is dependent on a range of critical factors, including charging infrastructure, consumer acceptance, technology and running costs – as well as supply chain support, jobs and skills.”

He added that the market remains small, but is growing rapidly and manufacturers want it to accelerate given the investments being made.
(Photo: Department for Transport)

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