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Electric car sales going nowhere fast, RAC study suggests

Pretty much nobody is buying electric cars, a new report has suggested. The study found that a mere 3,600 electric cars have been sold since the government started offering a £5,000 grant to encourage uptake of electric cars nearly two years ago.

The report, commissioned by the RAC Foundation and the UK Petroleum Industry Association (who may or may not have a vested interest in dissuading customers from buying electric cars) claimed customers were put off by the high purchase price of electric cars, their limited range and the fact they were sometimes not as efficient as petrol and diesel alternatives.

The report, entitled ‘Powering Ahead – the future of low-carbon cars and fuels‘ [pdf] said: “Battery electric vehicles face major challenges in gaining market share because of their high prices and limited range. Breakthroughs in technology, particularly in the cost and performance of batteries are required before plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles can achieve significant market share.”

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, added: “It is more than two years since the Government introduced the plug-in car grant. Yet even with subsidies of £5,000 per vehicle available only 3,600 cars have been purchased through the scheme.”

“This report concludes that the key to making electric cars a commercial success is a major advance in battery technology.

“Until then these vehicles are likely to remain too expensive and too impractical to penetrate the mass market.”

The government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change had previously expressed a desire to have up to 1.7 million battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2020. It looks like the technology still has a way to go before it reaches primetime acceptance.

If you’ve already made your mind up about making the leap to electric cars, or you simply need some advice, then make sure you check out our guide to the top 10 best electric cars available to buy now.


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