Feb 212012

We are struggling

Although other European countries have shown recent successes in improving access to electric vehicles and the necessary infrastructure to support them (look no further than Estonia and Holland), the UK and Ireland are doing dismally, new data shows.

Renault Twizy - Two Seat Electric Car

Renault Twizy - Two Seat Electric Car

Target Missed

In London, Mayor Boris Johnson’s self-set target of 100,000 electric vehicles on the roads of the English capital has fallen woefully short. A report by the London Assembly showed that there are only a little over 2,300 electric vehicles in London, meaning the mayor has effectively missed his own mark by a staggering 97 per cent.

Only 400 charging points in London

The figures prompted widespread criticism of the Conservative mayor’s performance, particularly from the Green Party which has pushed for a clean-up of the air pollution problem. Mr Johnson’s aim to get 25,000 recharging points in London by 2015 also looks to be in danger of failing, as the latest figures show there are still only 400 in operation in London, again leaving the city way below its stated target.

48 EVs sold in Ireland

In Ireland, the latest data on electric vehicle uptake among the general population has been similarly discouraging. Following predictions of around 2,000 electric vehicle sales per year in the country after the first recharging station was installed in 2010, the figures for 2011 showed total sales of just 48 electric cars, again meaning Ireland missed its target by at least 97 per cent. And hybrids didn’t fare much better, accounting for only 538 of the total 86,932 private vehicles licensed to drive in the country in 2011. Ireland still largely prefers diesel vehicles, which made up some 71 per cent of private sales last year.

Purchase Price to high

So what is holding the UK and Ireland back from adopting electric vehicles? According to a new survey by thechargingpoint.com, a UK-based website dedicated to investigating electric vehicles, purchase price remains a key consideration, while the range of the vehicles is surprisingly less so. Announced in the first week of February, thechargingpoint results showed that a huge 74.3 per cent of respondents cited the purchase price as the main reason preventing them from buying an electric vehicle. Range anxiety was second, but way behind at 38.1 per cent.

What would be an appropriate range?

When asked what the appropriate range of an electric vehicle actually is, the biggest percentage went for between 100 and 200 miles, while slightly fewer said between 200 and 300 miles would be appropriate. Given that respondents showed a surprisingly low inclination to buy an electric vehicle based on their concern for the environment, it seems price is the main sticking point. This concern is almost certainly more acute at the moment thanks to the continuing doom and gloom surrounding the UK’s economy.

Things can only get better

In the longer term, things certainly look better, with nearly two-thirds of respondents saying they were considering buying an electric vehicle in the future. Along with the expectation that the UK economy simply has to improve over the medium to long-term, the increasing range of electric vehicles and the new models coming onto the market this year, things are looking good, perhaps just not quite as good as expected by the Mayor of London.

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