The GreenCarWebsite reports that the German market for EVs is the most buoyant in Europe despite offering one of the lowest subsidy rates to buyers.
According to market data released by Jato Dynamics nearly twice as many EVs were registered in Germany in the first half of 2011 compared to the UK with 1,020 models snapped up in Germany compared to just 599 in the UK.
The new findings from the automotive data experts seems to suggest that incentives aren’t the important factor in driving consumer demand for electric vehicles; as demand in Denmark remains stubbornly low despite having the highest potential EV tax exclusions.
Although Denmark appears to be a haven for EVs in Europe with tax exclusions that potentially amount to €20,588 per vehicle, there were only 283 registrations in the first half of 2011, representing just 0.32 per cent of all vehicles registered in the country.
The numbers are terrible. The picture in Great Britain seems slightly better however than Denmark, although a failure by any other measure, as our home country is compared with Spain where tax incentives are around the same level (€6,500 in Spain and the equivalent of €6,400 in GB). Despite a similar tax incentive rate, five times more electric vehicles sold here than in Spain (599 versus 122) in the same period.
The picture in Sweden is also impressive, and despite cold weather conditions to deal with, the country registered an almost identical volume as Spain (111) despite subsidies per vehicle amounting to just €470.
Across Europe, total EV registrations came to 5,222 in the first half of the year.
Commenting on the findings, Gareth Hession, VP for Research at JATO said: "The discrepancies highlight the apparently low influence of price on purchase decisions across the region. Given this it’s reasonable to conclude that sales are more affected by other factors such as the degree of urban geography, market maturity and charging infrastructure than was previously thought."
These local factors include the ability to use bus lanes and free city-centre parking in Oslo and exemption from London’s Congestion Charge all of which appear to exert a greater influence than point of purchase incentives.
Jato’s research also confirms a ten-fold increase in EV registrations across Europe compared to the first half of 2010 – 5,222 compared to 507. Incentives for electric cars across Europe include lower and zero-rated tax levels, consumer grants and free charging and parking facilities.'
My view: even after subsidies the purchase price of EVs is simply far too high. Subsidies can have a big impact if they bring the price down to within the acceptable range for buyers.