Sales of electric cars have slumped so badly that there are now more charging points than vehicles on the road. Just 2,149 electric cars have been sold since 2006, despite a government scheme last year offering customers up to £5,000 towards the cost of a vehicle.
The Department for Transport says that around 2,500 charging points have been installed, although their precise location is not known.
Lost the spark: Sales of electric cars in the UK, including the Nissan Leaf, are poor despite a government grant towards the cost of the vehicles
The government grant has boosted sales – from 138 in 2010 to 1,1082 last year – but only £3.9million of the £300million set aside has been paid out.
A spokesman for the DFT told The Sunday Times: ‘It’s fair to say that there hasn’t been a huge take-up over the past year.’
The high cost of electric cars has put many off. The Nissan Leaf still costs £25,990 even after the £5,000 grant has been deducted.
Electric cars are also only suitable for short journeys, with a maximum range of around 100 miles on a full charge.
Limited: The Department for Transport said there are 2,500 charging points for electric cars – more than the number that have been sold in the last five years
Mark Goodier, former Radio 1 DJ who owns a Nissan Leaf, told the newspaper: ‘Nissan needs to work on range. If you travel more than 100 miles, this is not for you.
‘You have to think about usage and plan what you are going to do. You can’t wake up and decide to drive to Scotland.’
The government is spending £30million on publicly-funded charging points and those in private companies.
These range from points which take between six and eight hours, to those which provide an 80 per cent charge in half an hour.
Drivers can pay an annual fee to use the majority of the points, with authorities charging a membership fee for the year but no extra charge for electricity.
It’s a similar story in the U.S., with Nissan selling 10,000 Leaf cars last year – compared to almost 13million new vehicles every year, The Sunday Times reported.
A spokesman for Nissan said: ‘The Leaf is meeting its business plans but it’s a car that’s going to take a while to be accepted in the market.’
More fuel-efficient petrol engines are also affecting electric car sales.
Norman Baker, transport minister, said the availability of electric cars was the main challenge to the market.
Daily Mail, 17 January 2012