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Electric Car Sales Rise, But Too Slowly To Meet German Targets

Electric Car Sales Rise, But Too Slowly To Meet German Targets

“We see that further subsidies are necessary. We must speak with the German states about that” – Merkel

Sales of electric cars in Europe might be gathering pace, but are still too slow to threaten targets for their adoption in Germany, and are undermining car manufacturers which have invested heavily in making them.

In the first 10 months of 2014 electric car sales in Western Europe rose 64.1 per cent, but only reached a relatively tiny level of 46,111, according to Britain’s Automotive Industry Data (AID). That’s a market share of 0.45 per cent. Sales of electric cars in Germany in the first 10 months were only 7,848, although that was 51.8 per cent higher than the previous year.

AID said that even though the headline rate of growth looked strong, the underlying growth rate was slowing.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to see one million electric cars on the country’s roads by 2020, but sales are so slow, this target has no chance of being reached unless some dramatic action is taken.

Earlier this month Merkel acknowledged the one million by 2020 target, adding that there was “still a lot to do” and alluding to the need to increase incentives to kick-start sales.

“We see that further subsidies are necessary. We must speak with the German states about that,” Merkel said.

So far, no details have been forthcoming from the German government. In total, there are now 24,000 electric cars on German roads.

In fact Germany currently offers no financial incentives for electric car purchases, although some cities offer free parking and bus lane use. France offers buyers 6,300 euros ($7,733) towards the cost of an electric car, while Britain offers 5,000 pounds ($7,810). That hasn’t helped much though. In the first 10 months of 2014 electric car sales in France totalled 8,056 and in Britain 4,963, according to AID. In the U.S., buyers get a $7,500 federal tax credit for buying electric.

There are plenty of electric cars on offer in Germany now, and across Europe. Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest car maker, offers an all-electric Up city car and Golf small family sedan. BMW sells the little i3 battery car. Mercedes has the Smart electric car and “B” class battery-only vehicle. Renault of France has the Zoe and Nissan of Japan sells the Leaf. The Tesla Model S in now on sale in Germany and sales reached 595 in the first 10 months, AID said.

By the end of 2014, 17 electric models will be on sale and another 12 will go on sale next year, said Germany’s automotive industry group VDA.

And it’s not just the politicians concerned about the lack of enthusiasm for electric cars, which haven’t caught on with the public because of their high prices and uncertain and short range. Car manufacturers are faced with slow production lines after investing heavily to install them.

“Electric car makers are having to confront the harsh truth that the hoped for consumer rush for their latest plug-in electric vehicles has so far failed to materialize, and that some lateral thinking will be needed from now on to keep their newly built electric car assembly lines and battery plants running,” AID editor Peter Schmidt said.

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