New evidence: Carmaker holding back EV sales to maximise SUV-fueled profits

Kia Motors dealers in Spain are not allowed to sell pure battery electric cars or plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) until the first day of next year under new management instructions.

In a letter sent to the entire dealership network of Kia Motors in Spain, the director of planning and logistics, Javier Casado, urged dealers to postpone invoicing EVs and PHEVs as of 1 October and delay the registration of the same type of vehicles as from 1 November. All these ‘obligations’, the letter reads, are ‘unavoidable’ and must be observed ‘without exception’. The sales ‘restrictions will be eliminated as of 01 January 2020’.

This new evidence proves what T&E has been saying for months now: carmarkers have been delaying the sales of cleaner cars until the new CO2 standards kick in 2020. Kia is waiting until literally the last possible date, the final day of the year. The tactic by carmakers is delaying more European drivers getting electric cars in an attempt to maximise SUV-fueled profits. 

Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles director at T&E, said: ‘Carmakers have been crying wolf that demand for electric cars is not there, that customers don’t want to buy cleaner cars. The reality is that carmakers have been holding back sales of EVs in order to squeeze every last drop of petrol and diesel cars. This letter is just another proof of it.’

Last month, carmakers launched hundreds of new electric car models at the Frankfurt Motor Show in preparation for the entry into force of more stringent CO2 standards for new cars and vans. New T&E analysis, launched one day before the show, estimated car manufacturers could sell up to one million EVs and PHEVs next year in the EU.

The study forecasted that in 2020 EV sales will be around 5% (3-7% range), with 2021 EV sales around 10% (5-12% range), depending on the different strategies pursued by carmakers to comply with EU CO2 targets for new cars. New data from auto market researchers IHS Markit also anticipated a tripling of EV models by 2021 if carmalers deliver on their own plans to boost the production of electric vehicles (both zero emission and plug-in hybrid models).

Transport is Europe’s biggest climate problem, representing more than a quarter (27%) of the bloc’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Cars emit 44% of transport emissions and that share is still rising due to the business decisions made by carmakers. 

T&E’s modelling shows that the last petrol or diesel vehicle should be sold in the early 2030s if the EU is to meet its climate commitments under the Paris agreement and achieve zero emissions in 2050.