Following fiasco in Spain, electric car sales slump in the UK


G-Wiz Electric Vehicle parked outside 37 Savil...

G-Wiz Electric Car:Image via Wikipedia


In August it was apparent that Spain’s much-publicized plans to put thousands of electric cars on the road as part of a drive for a greener economy were way off target, with only 16 sold so far compared to the 2000 target for this year.

The Guardian reported today that

Sales of new electric cars in the UK plummeted by nearly 90% in 2009 compared with their peak in 2007, according to motoring trade association figures released this week. Just 55 of the green cars – whose fans include Boris Johnson, Jonathan Ross and Jade Jagger – were registered in 2009, in contrast to 397 in 2007, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The huge fall is a blow to UK efforts to meet tough carbon emission cut targets in a decade, and comes just months before the government introduces a subsidy of up to £5,000 off new electric cars.

Nearly half of the electric vehicles sold last year were the tiny G-Wiz car. The latest modelhas a top speed of 50mph and a range of 48 miles between charges.

In January, the coalition will begin offering up to £5,000 towards the price of a series of newly launched electric cars, as part of a subsidy announced by the former Labour government. The Department for Transport (DfT) anticipates around 8,600 of the cars will be sold in the first year of the scheme. The government has so far committed £43m for the scheme to run until March 2012, with a review taking place in January 2012, but in yesterday’s spending review it talked of “supporting consumer incentives for electric and other low-emission cars throughout the life of this parliament,” suggesting the subsidy would continue after March 2012 though possibly at a lower rate.

In Spain the Industry Ministry’s plan was to have 2,000 electric cars on the road by the end of 2010 and 20,000 electric and hybrid vehicles operating the following year.

I cannot help concluding that most of these highly artificial “green” subsidies – whether for cars or for solar energy or  for wind turbines – are badly thought through, are chasing a mirage and will be counter-productive.

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