Electric Car Sales Stall In Europe Despite Big Subsidies.
“brutal reality is that the region’s half year electric car sales share remains stuck at 0.61%, and if anything, it appears to be slipping”
European car makers plan to produce more electric cars and big government subsidies make them more affordable, but consumers are still refusing to buy.
If car buyers shun battery electric vehicles, perhaps fuel cell power will be the solution one day.
That’s the view of Peter Schmidt, editor of European newsletter Automotive Industry Data (AID).
His latest report on electric car sales in Western Europe shows they are going into reverse. In June electric car sales – mainly comprising the Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Volkswagen e-Up and e-Golf, and BMW i3 – fell 11.1% to 8,195. This adds up to a market share of 0.61% compared with 0.7% in the same period of 2015.
For the half year, sales were ahead by 8.3% to 45,343, but AID said in May and June sales had started falling.
Even more depressing for those predicting electric cars will rule the roost one day, the generous subsidies offered by the German government are being largely ignored by consumers.
Earlier this year, Germany announced a 1.2 billion euro fund, with manufacturers contributing 600 million euros ($680 million). Each electric car sale would receive a rebate of 4,000 euros ($4,500). Plug-in hybrids qualify for 3,000 euros. The scheme, which started July 1, will expire when it runs out of money. Germany also allocated 300 million euros to boost the electric recharging network, and 100 million to allow government departments to buy electric cars. Only cars priced under 60,000 euros ($67,900) will qualify. That effectively excludes current Tesla cars.
“The German subsidy scheme has received a lukewarm response at best. Figures show that in the first month of the subsidy just 1,194 German electric car buyers applied for the subsidy. For comparison, pre-subsidy registrations this June reached 863 units; and July last year the registrations were 1,023,” AID editor Peter Schmidt said.
Germany has a target of one million electric cars on its roads by 2020, and this stands no chance of being met. After the subsidy news, experts said perhaps sales might reach half that amount by 2020.
Most European countries subsidize electric car sales. France offers 10,000 euros ($11,300) for a diesel at least 14 years old. Britain’s subsidies are closer to the German level. Oil rich and socialist Norway offers tax free electric car purchases, plus free parking in cities and free entry where regular cars are banned.
Just this week, it was reported that Mercedes will create a sub-brand for electric cars to challenge BMW’s “i” cars. Mercedes didn’t confirm the report which also said it will add two electric SUVs and two sedans. Mercedes has said it will unveil an electric car at the Paris Car Show in late September.
BMW sells the i3 battery electric city car which is also available with a gasoline-engine range extender, and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. The BMW i5 should appear by 2020, and by 2018, expect to see the electric Porsche Mission E, Audi Q6 e-tron Quattro SUV and Volkswagen Phaeton battery-only sedan.
But despite the availability of big government subsidies, car buyers are currently not impressed.
“In a year when some forecasters were expecting a notable toehold from electric cars in Western Europe, brutal reality is that the region’s half year electric car sales share remains stuck at 0.61%, and if anything, it appears to be slipping. A great deal more worrying still, judged from June’s turnout, of late sales have slipped from already very low levels,” Schmidt said in an interview.
Schmidt said it may be that battery electric cars might have to make way for fuel cell powered ones because despite the progress in driving range and a great deal more expected, this option is still handicapped by cost, the sheer mass and weight of the battery stack, the time consumed by recharging and the need to build electric car infrastructure.
“Is there a superior alternative? Yes. The fuel-cell powered electric car, a technology now being heavily pursued by Asian carmakers Toyota and Hyundai, looks on balance more promising. Why? Foremost, much lighter hydrogen powered fuel-cell cars, rather than today’s battery –powered powered cars hold a great deal more promise of meeting the expectations of King Buyer,” Schmidt said.
“Yes a costly and evidently subsidized hydrogen fuel infrastructure holds the key, and to that end it’s high-time get this particular ball rolling. In both Japan and Germany, efforts are already underway,” Schmidt said.