Despite government subsidies, battery-electric cars are still more expensive than gasoline or diesel-powered ones, but automakers are scrambling to increase production and sales to meet new emissions restrictions that came in this year.
Sales of new battery-electric cars nearly tripled to 39,000 in July, but there are signs that demand is slipping. Data from the online Auto Trader marketplace shows that the average asking price for electric cars fell 5.2% in the year through August.
Ian Plummer, Commercial Director of Auto Trader, said that “the higher initial retail price of electric vehicles is somewhat off-putting” to consumers, despite the potential savings from their lower running costs.
Mike Hawes, Managing Director of SMMT, said: ‘Until these vehicles are as affordable to buy and as easy to own and use as conventional cars, we risk the UK being in the slow lane. , undermining industry investment and slowing progress. ”
The SMMT has called on the UK government to expand subsidies available to buyers of new electric cars to include plug-in hybrid vehicles. The withdrawal of subsidies on plug-in hybrids last year sparked a furious backlash from the industry, which argues that the controversial technology, which combines an internal combustion engine with a battery, is a crucial springboard for consumers.
However, environmental groups say the best way to speed up consumer adoption of electric cars is to propose bans on internal combustion engines. The government has pledged to ban polluting engines that emit carbon dioxide by 2040, but plans to push it forward until 2035 or even as early as 2032.
Industry and environmental groups are united in calling for a dramatic increase in investment in charging stations to make it more attractive for consumers across the country to switch to electric cars.
The UK will need 1.7 million electric car charging points on the streets by the end of the decade, and 1.1 million more by 2035, to enable a fleet of cars zero emissions, according to an analysis by SMMT and consultant Frost and Sullivan. This would equate to more than 500 new charging stations per day for 15 years.