Ask any electric car lover in Europe why the ‘car of the future’ is making such a slow advance on the Old Continent and they will probably point to a lack of charging networks and high prices.
But a new study, released by Transport and Environment on Wednesday (6 September), suggests that poor marketing, long delivery periods and a very limited choice of such cars also play a part.
There are just 20 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on sale in Europe, compared to 417 petrol and diesel models, the study said. “T&E research has found that even many of these models are simply not available for sale in showrooms – notably the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera and Bolt – and others have long waiting times due to a lack of manufacturing capacity, such as the Hyundai Ioniq and BMW i3.”
Data analysed by T&E also shows that “manufacturers are barely even trying to sell electric vehicles – as evidenced by tiny marketing expenditure”. By comparison, India has said it hopes that all cars on its roads by 2030 will be electric.
On average across Germany, France, UK, Spain, Italy and Norway only 2.1% of carmakers’ marketing budget was spent on zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and 1.6% on plug-in hybrid models.
This data seems to indicate that they are not actively trying to attract new customers, although the study said that “around 30% of German, French, and British consumers say they would consider buying an electric vehicle today”.
In one notable exception, the advertising budget for battery electric cars in Norway (where more than 1 in 3 new cars sold are now electric) was much higher, the study said, highlighting the fact that BMW spends 24% of its budget on promoting BEVs in Norway, while Daimler spends 14% for its BEVs.
T&E concluded that the sale of electric vehicles will inevitably underperform in most of Europe, as analysis shows that sales of electric or zero-emission cars were around half the level forecasted or promised by carmakers. On average, carmakers aimed at selling 3.6% electric cars but only achieved 1.7%.
Another study, published by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association in June said demand for ‘alternative fuel vehicles’ in the EU had surged 37.6% to 212,945 units in the first quarter of 2017, following a moderate increase at the end of 2016.
The number of electric vehicles also rose almost 30%. But despite the dramatic increase, the share of alternative cars remained modest, with only one out of 20 new cars using alternative fuel.