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

Carmakers are failing to achieve their own targets for sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid models as they do not increase the offer of these vehicles fast enough. While manufacturers complain about a lack of recharging infrastructure and incentives, this report by T&E makes it clear that they could have done significantly more to meet their own goals.

There are just about 30 battery and fuel cell electric models on sale compared to about 370 conventionally-fuelled models. But it is now clear many models are simply not available for sale in showrooms and others have long waiting times. The very limited choice of electric cars, long waiting times to receive these cars, limited availability and crucially a lack of adverting investment are contributing for carmakers’ lack of sales.

Data purchased from leading marketing analytical company Ebiquity shows that carmakers are making very little effort to market electric models. Whilst around 30% of British, French and German consumers say they would consider buying an electric car, just 1.5% of advertisement spend was on zero emission models and 1.4% on plug-in hybrid models in the EU’s largest car markets: Germany, France, UK, Italy and Spain. Across the EU, advertising spend is likely to be significantly lower than this percentage as little promotion of zero emission models is likely out of the major new car markets. In Norway (where 4 out of 10 cars sold were battery or plug-in hybrids in 2017), OEM’s advertising spend on zero emission cars as a proportion was much higher (10%), indicating companies tending to follow demand rather than creating a new market.

Analysis of future market growth by carmakers shows expectations are for strong growth, such that by 2025, 26% of new cars sold are expected to be electric. But past performance suggests without regulations they will fail to achieve their aspirations. This is why the forthcoming car CO2 regulation is so important in defining the speed of transition to zero emission solutions and in particular a binding sales target of 20%, either through a sales target or through a crediting-debiting system for Zero and Low Emission Vehicles, along with CO2 reduction targets of 50-60% in 2030, and 25% in 2025.