Car makers and governments are placing their faith in electric vehicles, despite the disappointing sales of the past three years.
Both BMW and the Volkswagen Group have recently spoken out in support of the German government’s aim to get one million electric vehicles on the country’s streets despite tiny sales of electric vehicles last year.
According to industry sources, less than 4200 pure EVs and hybrids were sold in Germany last year in a market worth about three million new car sales each year.
Even in the United States, which is thought to be the most EV-friendly of Western markets, the penetration of battery-powered vehicles has not yet exceeded 10 per cent. According to figures released at the recent Global Automotive Forum, between January and June this year, some 15,444 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles were sold in California.
This number breaks down into 9700 EVs and 5736 plug-in hybrids, together accounting for just seven per cent of the Californian market.
In China, the world’s biggest market for new cars and one suffering from serious pollution, EVs are failing to make an impact. Between January and June this year, 5123 pure EVs and 775 plug-in hybrids were sold in China.
Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn was recently quoted as saying that Germany could hit the million target if plug-in hybrids were included in the calculation. VW bosses privately feel that only plug-in hybrids have any chance of widespread acceptance.
BMW has been bullish about the production prospects of its futuristic i3 EV, even though it costs £30,000 before the government grant of £5000. Analysts have also dramatically marked down the sales of the affordable Renault Zoe EV, predicting that the company will sell about 25,000 next year, well behind the 50,000 suggested as the firm’s internal target.