In 2010 the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, which represents carmakers, predicted EVs would be 0.5 per cent of the market by now. They are less than 0.1 per cent.
We’re all familiar with the notion of a tipping point, and the number of electric vehicles available, including pure battery cars and plug-in hybrids, is multiplying fast. One Australian study suggested supply would be an issue until this year, and after that the graph would rise steeply.
Certainly, the choice of electric vehicles everywhere has been limited. More will come, with most carmakers eventually offering standard models with one or both systems. They know it’s the only way they can meet increasingly stringent emissions targets.
But anyone who thinks supply is the problem is kidding themselves. Buyers aren’t buying. That’s the problem. Recent falls in petrol prices don’t help, of course. But even before that, buyers can see EVs don’t add up.
Take a closer look at the global picture and it’s clear the EV fleet is concentrated in just a few places. Two-thirds of the 665,000 on the planet are in China, Japan and the US. And when it comes to the US, we’re talking California.
Markets where EVs have been a success have thrown huge sums at buyers and offered valuable incentives such as transit-lane access.
Norway, where EVs have captured 12 per cent of the new car market and it’s not unusual for the Tesla Model S to be the bestseller, is reconsidering its incentive scheme. Why subsidise luxury car buyers?
The penny has dropped among carmakers that EVs have fallen flat. General Motors is just the latest to retreat from sales targets. And this in the face of some trends going their way, such as falling battery costs.