Intelligent Energy

No EVs please, we're British

No EVs please, we're British

Posting in Energy

Electric cars too quiet to hear coming? In Britain, you can barely even see 'em. A microscopic total of 34 sell in August, as high prices dampen interest.

There’s been a lot of talk about how electric cars could be a safety hazard because they’re so quiet you can’t hear them coming. In the UK, there’s a related problem - you can barely even see ‘em. The grand told of electric cars sold there in August: 34.

That number comes from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, as reported by the BBC.

Okay, so August is typically one of the slowest months of the year for car sales. But sales of all new cars for the month totaled 59,346, the SMMT says. That makes the EV portion 0.0006% - too small to spot with the naked eye.

To look at it another way, the U.S. has 5 times the population of the UK, so, all things being equal, consumers would have purchased 170 EVs from sea to shining sea last month. I don’t think EV sales are booming in the States, but I’m going to guess that they exceeded 170. I’ll leave that for someone else to check.

One problem around the world continues to be the high price of electric vehicles. As we noted recently, China is turning its back on EVs because they cost too much and are perceived as less reliable than conventional cars.

Consumers also worry about the limited range of travel on an electric charge.

In the UK, the British Vehicle Renting and Leasing Association calculates that the “running costs” of the Nissan Leaf, an EV, would exceed those of a conventionally-fueled engine by £5,000 ($8,000) over a 3-year, 36,000 mile cycle.

“More than a dozen new electric and hybrid vehicles are set to hit the UK market over the next year, but most of them will be decorating showrooms unless manufacturers are more realistic on pricing,” BVRLA chief executive John Lewis said in a press release. 

“Ultra-low carbon transport is a necessity and electric vehicles have a big part to play in getting us there, but these vehicles are simply too expensive for most fleets at the moment.”

The good news for the UK industry is that the 34 EVs sold in August triples the number from August a year earlier.

The increase was stimulated by a government subsidy program that started in January, providing £5,000 towards the purchase of an EV. Yet, even with the subsidy, only 837 electric cars sold through August.

The SMMT also reported that overall new car sales rose 7.3% in August, ending a 13-month decline in monthly sales.

But it seems that fuel-conscious Brits prefer energy-efficiency improvements in internal combustion models to EVs. The strongest growth was in the “mini” and “super-mini” segments, which rose 34.5% and 17.6%, respectively. The best selling car was the Ford Fiesta.

Until EV prices decline, those are probably results that we can expect to see coming again.

Photo: ukcardeal.com

Related Posts:

* China turning its back on EVs

* The power of one: VW's single seat EV

* How to get an electric car for free

* Audi's 'staggering' urban EV concept

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure