Electric car sales losing spark?

2012-01-23 09:54

LONDON, England - Sales of electric cars have slumped so badly that there are now more charging points than vehicles on the road.

Just 2149 electric cars have been sold since 2006, despite a UK government scheme in 2011 offering customers up to £5000 (close to R62 000) towards the cost of a vehicle.

The UK Department for Transport says that around 2500 charging points have been installed, although their precise location is not known, the Daily Mail reports.

The government grant has boosted sales, from 138 in 2010 to 11 082 in 2011, but only R48.2 million of the R3.7 billion set aside has been paid out.

The high cost of electric cars has put many off and are also only suitable for short journeys, with a maximum range of around 160km on a full charge.


Mark Goodier, who owns a Nissan Leaf, said: "Nissan needs to work on range. If you travel more than 160km, this is not for you.

"You have to think about usage and plan what you are going to do. You can't wake up and decide to drive to Scotland," he said.

A spokesman for Nissan said: 'The Leaf is meeting its business plans but it's a car that's going to take a while to be accepted in the market.'

The UK government is spending R370 million on publicly-funded charging points and those in private companies. These charging points are capable of recharging a vehicle between six and eight hours, while some points can provide 80% charge in half an hour.

Drivers can pay an annual fee to use the points, with authorities charging a membership fee for the year.

  • Arno - 2012-01-23 11:37

    So a drive to Durban would take almost two days?! EV vehicles ARE NOT the future, hydrogen is most definitely, if they can just make it adaptable to regular cars, like they did with catalytic converters, then it would be a godsend. Besides the point that there may be no power when you try and charge your car. "Sorry boss couldn't come to work today, no power". "Sorry sir you have to wait for an ambulance, it's still being charged".

      Ernst - 2012-01-23 13:03

      Contrary to what Top Gear believes, Hydrogen is a much tougher alternative feul to commercialize than battery electrics. First of all, there is no refeuling infrastructure. This will cost trillions of dollars to rectify. Then there is the costs of the technology. Currently, these cars cost hundreds of thousand of dollars to produce and since there is no refeuling stations, nobody is going to buy them. Producing hydrogen is energy intensive: You have to consume alot of electricity to produce and store hydrogen and then you have to pass it through a feul cell to produce electricity that power your car. It is simply much more efficient to just charge a battery.

      Arno - 2012-01-23 14:44

      Thanks for clarifying Ernst, but don't you think that the more and more people start using a certain tech the cheaper it'll get? Sure initial outlay may be very high but in the long term it should even out. My issues with EV's are that they still use, indirectly, massive amounts of fossil fuels, with the power constraints we, and the rest of the world, are facing I think it's still a long way off being a viable alternative. I understand there is no such thing as clean energy, but some are more clean than others.

      Michael - 2012-01-24 06:58

      Arno. think about two car families, broaden your horizons a little bit. One car might be used by Mom to take the kids to school and do some shopping. An electric vehicle is ideal for this, also for going to work and back. When you go to Durban once or twice a year you use the other conventional car. Does this make sense?????

  • Desmond - 2012-01-23 12:42

    Why do people buy electric vehicles. They are definitely not emmission free - in fact you need to run a power station to make them work. Then inefficiently transfer the power to the battery to drive anywhere. Low emission diesels are far more environmentally friendly

      Ernst - 2012-01-23 13:10

      "They are definitely not emmission free - in fact you need to run a power station to make them work." Dear Desmond. You need power stations to make normal petrol and diesel cars work as well. You forget that refining oil into petrol and diesel also consumes electricity and other resources. Then, there is the storage and transportation (which also causes emissions) of petrol to filling stations that also have to be taken into account. From that perspective, when compared to petrol and diesel cars, electrics are zero-emissions. Lastly, Nissan has sold over 20000 electrics globally. Not bad if you take the number of sales of the first hybrid (Prius) in its first year. As battery tech improves, so will the range of electrics. You have to start somewhere.

      Jango - 2012-01-23 14:54

      Greetings Ernst. The biggest problem with battery tech is in fact the disposal of the used up tech in a few years time, which is by no means earth friendly, and the hunger on commodity stocks world-wide to produce them. With battery-cell technology we are simply creating a whole new headache for next generations to manage over and above the emissions challenge we already have.

      Ernst - 2012-01-23 15:16

      @Jango: What do you think happens to the batteries you have in your car, once they die? They get recycled. See the following link: http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/faq/list/environment#/leaf-electric-car/faq/list/environment.

      Jango - 2012-01-24 13:22

      @ Ernst. Some flaws in Nissan's argument. Firstly, most of the electricity needed for usage is actually coal powered in the USA, which is not earth friendly at all. So part wind power is a nice cover up for the manufacture process only. Secondly, the USA only has 1 primary battery recycle company in place to deal with car Li-ion tech (Toxco Inc - Nissan does not do this), and they received a grant from the US government to expand capacity based on 2014/15 forecasts. Perhaps Nissan would like to inform us what is happening in Africa, lower Asia, and South America as a similar initiative?

  • James - 2012-01-23 15:43

    Viable Batt 10 years away.

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