Carmakers failing to hit their own goals for sales of electric cars

This briefing collates a range of evidence and shows that carmakers are failing to achieve their own targets for sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. It also shows that the very limited choice of electric cars, long waiting times to receive cars, limited availability and crucially a lack of marketing investment are contributing for carmakers’ lack of sales.

Analysis by T&E shows that in 2016, on average, carmakers aimed at selling 3.6% electric cars but only achieved 1.7%. This varied among companies: Volkswagen reached almost 2% EV sales while targeting at 3.5%. BMW sold 4% of EVs and aimed at 10%. Renault-Nissan sold 2.5% aiming at 8%.

While manufacturers complain about a lack of recharging infrastructure and incentives it is also clear they could have done significantly more to meet their own goals. There are just 20 battery electric on sale compared to over 400 conventionally fuelled models. But it is now clear many models are simply not available for sale in showrooms and others have long waiting times.

But data purchased from leading marketing analytical company Ebiquity shows that carmakers are making very little effort to market electric cars. While around 30% of German, French, and British consumers say they would consider buying an electric vehicle, on average across six major western European car markets just 2.1% of car marketing spend was on zero emission vehicles and 1.6% on plug-in hybrid models. Across the EU advertising spend is likely to be significantly lower than this percentage as little promotion of zero-emission vehicles is likely outline of the major new car markets. In Norway (where more than 1 in 3 new cars sold is now electric) marketing spend on electric cars as a proportion was much higher, indicating companies tend to follow demand rather than create a new market.