EV sales gear down in June

Sales of electric cars hit reverse gear in June, although they still remained up for the first half of the year compared to the first six months of 2015.

Driven mainly by Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Volkswagen e-Up and e-Golf, and BMW i3, sales of electric cars peaked at 8,195 in June, down 11% on sales in June 2015. That equates to a market share of just 0.59% compared to 0.7% the previous year.

That stagnation is despite significant support from governments across the continent. Earlier this year, Germany announced a €1.2bn electric vehicle fund, with manufacturers contributing €600m. Each electric car sale would receive a rebate of €4,000, while plug-in hybrids qualify for €3,000. Germany also allocated €300m to boost the electric recharging network, and €100m to allow government departments to buy electric cars. But despite that, sales of electric cars in Germany have hardly moved on since 2015.

Peter Schmidt, editor of European newsletter Automotive Industry Data, said, ‘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.’

Germany has set a target of a million electric cars on its roads by 2020, but experts now think sales might only reach half that amount by 2020. Alongside Germany, France offers €10,000 for a diesel at least 14 years old, Britain offers similar subsidies to Germany while Norway offers tax free electric car purchases, plus free parking in cities and free entry where regular cars are banned.

But despite these measure, consumer-uptake has yet to catch fire.

Peter said, ‘In a year when some forecasters were expecting a notable toehold from electric cars in western Europe, the 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.’

Instead, he believes battery electric cars might make way for fuel cell powered ones. He said, ‘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 cars hold a great deal more promise of meeting the expectations. A costly and evidently subsidized hydrogen fuel infrastructure holds the key, and to that end it’s high-time we get this particular ball rolling. In both Japan and Germany, efforts are already underway.’