Sometimes the easiest way to gauge a car’s sales success is to look around you, because what’s coming by on the roads is generally what’s flying out of the dealerships.
So how many of you have seen an electric car on the road? Not many, I’m guessing, and I bet those of you that have live in or close to London. To back up your hunches, I’ve listed the official 2011 sales figures below.
Does this mean electric cars are a flop? That the buying public isn’t buying into the ‘emissions-free’ motoring future promised by the adverts? (And before anyone starts, let’s not turn this into another ‘emissions-free’ debate…)
Well on this occasion I don’t think you should trust any hunches based on what you’re seeing. Now, I’m not pretending that 600-ish electric car sales in six months is anything to shout about, but nor do I think it’s worth doom and gloom headlines.
After all, the electric car sales push only began a few months into this year, with the Nissan Leaf going on sale and the government’s grant of up to £5000 kicking in. What’s more, charging points remain a rarity, with latest estimates suggesting that we’ll only get a semi-decent infrastructure of 13,000 points in place by the end of 2013.
For more positive news, look at the rise in sales of the Mitsubishi iMiev year-on-year. Sales have risen from 13 in June 2010 to 105 in June 2011. Small numbers, but it’s a pretty impressive sign of a growing willingness among some to adopt the available technology (and enjoy the aforementioned grant).
Also consider that the 338 Leaf sales in six months eclipse the entire annual sales in 2010 of Nissan’s sister brand Infiniti. That might not be the greatest advocacy of sales success, but it does suggest that the Leaf is capable of exploiting a niche market – and that when conditions change for the better, that niche will only grow.
None of this guarantees the success of the electric car, but I do wish those jumping at every opportunity to prophesise the end of an initiative that has barely begun would lay off and give new technology a chance to shine.