Despite the UK's £5,000 plug-in vehicle rebate ($7,904 U.S. at today's exchange rate), 2011 will not be the year "the electric car took off," according to The Guardian.

Recently released data shows that sales of plug-in vehicles in the UK have stalled, with only 106 electric vehicles sold there during the third quarter of 2011. That's a significant dip from the 465 plug-in registered in the UK in the first quarter of 2011 and down a bit from the 215 sold in Q2. At the formal launch of the UK's plug-in rebate, former transport secretary, Phillip Hammond, stated:
Government action to support affordable vehicles and more local charging points means we are on the threshold of an exciting green revolution – 2011 could be remembered as the year the electric car took off.
The number of electric vehicles registered in the UK now stands at 1,107, a tiny slice of the area's 28.5 million total vehicles. Some blame high sticker prices for slow sales of plug-ins, while others, including transport minister Norman Baker, say lack of choice is holding electric autos back:
It is nonsense to say the market has sputtered out. The availability of qualifying cars, rather than the public appetite for them is part of the problem. I have every confidence that that will change in the next few months and we will begin to see sales of ultra-low carbon cars improve.
The UK's plug-in rebate scheme is due to be reviewed in January of 2012.


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  • 70 Comments
      upstategreenie
      • 3 Years Ago
      this could also be related to fact no briton has to buy a car ever due to excellent public transportation and recent article which I think was on this blog about half of twenty something britons never plan to own a car, period again due to above. in 'merika, you have no options. big oil owns you. period. you are big oil's b*yotch. I have to add that, in wsj, an editorial today said you should feel sad about right wing denialist fundies who bought giant SUVs and are now slowly going bankrupt due to gas prices which are still less than half the world average since they are stuck in suburbia with no public transporation, dead end jobs, worthless jobs and no way to sell home to move to where jobs are, so let's all collectively have a boehner moment, before coming back to reality and realizing who stopped all the progress and having alternatives to being forced to fill up OR buy giant SUVs....for those whose stubborness and small-mindedness and egocentricism and narcissism forced them under duress to buy a giant unaffordable polluting SUV. yes america has the most SUVs so car makers who got record bailout by US taxpayers can build ever larger giant tin cans with shi(* gas mileage to haul little mouth breathers who will never add any value to society due to being coddled and spoiled, but in everything else fuel efficient or green or future oriented, US is like dollar store or second hand store or goodwill; we get second hand stuff. yeah free market capitalism!!! China has all the newest EVs, BYD, chery, geely etc. all building electric for their own citizens...americans will slowly be getting poorer and poorer and blame each other while govt. is deadlocked and politicians bicker about how to better empower corporations who are citizens and abuse taxpayers to squeeze out more record profits for big oil. everything on this site which is 'green' or on the cutting edge of technology is always already reality somewhere else, while just a concept here or something which could be potentially coming to the US in five years or so. wonderful!!! why isn't every single bus for instance in every US city AT LEAST a hybrid???? it COULDN'T possibly cost as much as what we spend on big oil subsidies and creating world war every year to protect 'cheap' oil!!!!
        • 3 Years Ago
        @upstategreenie
        You should read (for the first time, apparently) how poorly market acceptance of EVs is faring in China. Google "number of Prius sold China first half 2011". Not exactly robust. The Chinese love their electric bicycles... and their Buicks.
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @hermanjck You are absolutely right! Anyone dealing with the PRC in a serious way, understands that the environment is a very, very low priority. In fact it's safe to say environmental concerns and EV's have only a priority in PRC propaganda aimed at Western consumption!
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dave :D
          • 3 Years Ago
          @joeviocoe: Hmmm... the fastest-growing, least expensive Li battery manufacturing base on earth. Home to the widest and most extensive production of rare earths on the planet. Fastest-growing source of automotive parts manufacuring. HUGE national subsidies for EVs. Highest rate of electrical generation capacity growth. And they only buy electric bikes. Yup, it makes sense that they don't like EVs yet (derp)
          Dave
          • 3 Years Ago
          I'm pretty sure that the Chinese still hold a grudge against the Japanese for that whole "rape of Nanking" thing. (google it) So you really can't make any judgements based on Chinese consumptions of a Japanese car vs. Chinese consumption of an American one.
          • 3 Years Ago
          Oh, Dave and EZEE, ya got me --- Toyota only sold 612,000 vehicles in China for the first 9 months of the year! I know SO little about China; please tell me how your WOFE process went when you licensed a business there. Oh, wait: you don't know what the fcuk you're talking about?
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          That's all great as long as you have an infinite oil well in your back garden.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          Raw number of Priuses sold does not tell a complete story. Only enough information to twist around and develop whatever agenda you want. How many EVs are being sold? Low number. Agreed. How many EVs are being offered for sale? Also a low number. Put them together and use some math... and tell me the percentage. THAT is market acceptance! Not a raw number of sales. You confuse gasoline cars which have enjoyed 100 years of market growth, full production in hundreds of factories, and no real constraints on supply... with EVs which are only just starting to be produced in 4 digit quantities per model.
      Joeviocoe
      • 3 Years Ago
      WHY DID NOBODY NOTICE THE SOURCE! It's the Guardian for crying out loud. It would be like taking Fox News seriously when they bash EVs. Right-wing media outlets owe it to their shareholders to be VERY biased against a disruptive technology like this.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        1. The Guardian is not right wing. It is the UK's most left wing newspaper, very socialist and keen on the environment. 2. It is not owned by Rupert Murdock.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Sorry, I didn't know. I realize now that this journalist typically does write positive environmental pieces. It could be he was just trying to instigate debate and doesn't really believe the spin that he put on this story. Kinda like a British Eric Loveday.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          The Independent is left leaning too. Opposition by the journo's at either to electric cars is more likely to arise from the notion that everyone should ride a bike. That, and the complete incomprehension of journo's everywhere when confronted by anything which in any way involves technology.
          Andrew Richard Rose
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          That maybe, but they still trash electric cars . Its worth searching on their own website to see the spurious dis-information that Englands only Left -leaning newspaper has published over the last few years. I guess at the end of the day it is all tied up with advertising revenue !
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Their problem is more likely to be that the journalist feels that no-one should drive anything as capitalist as a car, electric or not. However the poor sales of electric vehicles have little to do with demand, and a lot to do with availability. Only unpleasant death-traps like the G=Whiz are readily available.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Wow! Looking at Andrew's response. Has everything I have ever been posted ever been more proven right by that post? I mean....wow! Even Dan must be thinking, 'dammit, hate it when he's right!'
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @ David Martin, Thank you, David for pointing that out! I think it would be quite a shock to George Monbiot to discover he works for a right-wing, Murdoch owned newspaper!
        Smith Jim
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        We will NEVER receive actual facts about environmental sustainability from media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch. Republicans have prostituted themselves to oil company money. We should not forget that during the Gulf oil spill Republicans said we owe BP an apology because Obama demanded that BP pay for the clean-up of their oil spill. Republicans are required by their puppet masters to criticize anything that involves clean energy.
        Ziv
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Joev, the Guardian is left wing and has voted for Labor and/or Liberal Dems for 56 years! Get your facts straight, and you can use the link below to go to a list of how every major British paper has endorsed candidates over the past 70 years. http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/may/04/general-election-newspaper-support#zoomed-picture
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Tory or not, are the Guardian's numbers accurate for consumer acceptance? They are derived directly from Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) data, which is linked in the Guardian article. Do you think that SMMT lied, too? The UK DfT as well? Your reaction is very like someone whose religion has just been questioned... oh, wait... NOW I understand. My sympathies. The people on this board respect ALL faiths (faith being evidence of things not seen, and all that...)
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          Please... the whole "new religion" argument is overused. And in this situation, is absurd. The same could be said about right-wing anti environmentalism being a "new, old religion". A new Catholic Church, if you will. Denial of facts, no matter how apparent. Spreading Fear, Hatred, and fostering self-righteousness. Blatant attacks against anything new, progressive idea that might disrupt their status quo. =========================== hermanjck, The numbers here are not in question. The interpretation IS! If you read ONLY what was written by the SMMT and UK DfT... then there is NO WAY you should come up with the conclusion that demand is the problem.. but supply. The author, Adam Vaughan, writes, "uptake of the greener cars has sputtered out"... " a significant slump in demand on already sluggish-take-up," He only then mentions that the "slump in uptake" might be a supply problem rather than a demand problem when quoting, Transport minister, Norman Baker. The sales numbers are fine... as long as you put some perspective and context in them. EVs aren't sitting on the dealership lots in any significant percentages. There are still MUCH higher percentages of gasoline cars that are built and not sold. ---------------------------------- If you think that this article only supplies objective "numbers", and is not rife with editorial ridicule and the mere opinion of the author... you are very blind. The word is called Bias. And these right-wing rags (left-wing rags too) use it WAY TOO MUCH to bash EVs.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @marco Ahhh, forgive my presumption then! I stand corrected. I am more libertarian then right winger, but more fun to say the latter....
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          Any one noticed that the response to Marco suggesting that if any story on the subject that is not in line with green dogma is met with rabid denouncements was met with rabid denouncements? Marco is left of center, and builds and converts vehicles to electric, and supports those in the community that do as well. One doesn't have to agree with him, but the response that I see when he mentions a reasonable opinion, is something that we (me being one of them) on the right are supposed to do. I was with some fellow right wingers once (on a date with a lovely mocha colored female, 18 years my jr.) and one of the right wingers said, 'so was George bush really THAT BAD?'. So me being me, I said, 'well, did we really elect a republican to turn a surplus into a deficit?'. They did in fact, agree that no, that is not what a republican is supposed to do. The point is, one should be able to listen to different ideas without flying off the deep end. Even if the other is wrong (in your opinion). Who knows...maybe the hydrogen guy will be proven right, or Dan with his light weight aero cars, or the solid state batteries. Maybe 2 wheel will get backing from Bill Gates and go into production with his bikes. Right now, to say that we know what will be coming, is pure opinion. So everyone calm the eff down.
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ezee, Curious assessment! You know in Australia, and the UK, I am considered centre-right?! Like all practical moderates, I'm the most despised by the 'green' socialist-left, for believing that practical action and reality is far more useful that endless discussions of ideology, funded by other peoples money! But, to more important issues! Tell me where do you find these lovely young (hue isn't important) females? Where is this right wing hangout? I think I have an old gold Elephant campaign lapel pin from Reagan's first election somewhere, could I wear it as my entrée? Does your date have a friend?
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @hermanjck, (Sigh) Unfortunately, some EV enthusiasts, like some environmentalists, have built EV's into a new green-left faith. Anything which contradicts this dogma, no matter how accurate or factual, must be denounced in the most rabid manner, as heresy! All very unhelpful.
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ezee, Not at all, you are not presumptious, just that centre right in America is further right than Australia. (I would also describe myself as a libertarian). Now, about these girls........?
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow. I asked a simple question and got voted down. Thank you for your honest answer, Peter. Unfortunately, I don't think yearly averages tell us much. I suspect that there are many people who commute by public transport so that most days they travel zero or nearly zero miles but when they do drive (to visit relatives, to the countryside, etc) they often exceed the range of a Leaf. And, as DaveMart astutely pointed out, without sufficient mileage (notably that daily commute) the Leaf never gets a chance to pay for itself.
      throwback
      • 3 Years Ago
      Perhaps Brits prefer other cars. It seems to me many European and Japanese cities would be ideal for EVs. The fact they don't seem to selling well in those cities makes me think buyers prefer other cars.
        upstategreenie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @throwback
        no they have options. many people overseas just have scooters. they don't need anything else, period. US is a car market as opposed to other places with high speed rail, safe biking environment etc....however we only get second hand junk because americans have such low standards in everything...they demand little of themselves of govt. of society of students of workers. it is why US is circling the drain. EVs will be perfectly suited for china the emerging #1 car market and consumer market. China for first time sold half of products made domestically. US is becoming the periphery... and yes apparently clean diesel and VW are big. so are peugeot citroen renault everything we don't even get in the US.
          throwback
          • 3 Years Ago
          @upstategreenie
          however we only get second hand junk because americans have such low standards in everything" Really, have you heard or the aerospace industry, silicon valley, apple microsoft, google etc.. We are "circling the drain" because we have forgotten what made us great, a can do attitude and self reliance. We have become satisfied with letting the other guy do it and pay for it.
        Dave
        • 3 Years Ago
        @throwback
        "It seems to me many European and Japanese cities would be ideal for EVs." I don't agree with this argument. If you live in a city, the last thing you want is a BEV. You commute by public transport (unless you enjoy pulling your hair out). And the only time you need a car is when you venture out of the city, into the countryside. When my niece moved to New York City, several years ago now, she sold her truck (a little Chevy S-10) and now she rents a car if she needs to travel. The cost of parking alone makes car ownership in NYC, Paris, London, Washington, Tokyo, etc. a silly choice.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave
          It depends on what you mean by city. There are cities.. then there are major metropolitan cities. NYC, I grew up there too... is the latter. Owning any car is VERY expensive. Parking fees alone cost more than what most people pay in full coverage insurance. But most cities are not that unfriendly to cars. And there are still plenty of garage space and regular parking. If you can afford it, do it. In the city, most distances are very short, even if they take an hour. For example, 15 mile commute can still take an hour. Sitting in traffic is perfect for an EV. Even in bad weather, the range of the Leaf may be only 47 miles... but it can run for 8 hours. And if you can get at least 120v (Level 1) charging, then that should take care of all needs within the city. No problem.
          throwback
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave
          True about cities, (I grew up in NYC) however it's these cities and environs that are being promoted for EV ownership. high gas prices, shorter driving distances are what many of these places have in common yet EVs are few and far between.
      Peter
      • 3 Years Ago
      I live in Canada, second only to Russia in land mass. Average distances driven in North America are about 12,000 miles (20,000 Km). In it UK it is reported at 8,000 miles. Hence my assumption that distances are small(er), but I have no idea what they really are.
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      IMHO, the UK has been the home of so many EV start up companies of the last 50 years. Nearly all have failed. Liberty is still in existence and selling EV conversions with a proprietary drive train. Modec, failed, Smiths were sold to the US, so many others have been sold to the PRC. The G-whiz was the sort of vehicle that destroyed EV creditability in a big way! But nothing equalled the nearly $1 billion loss of investor money by the publicly listed EV maker, Vectrix UK. None of these things helped. The UK is still stuck in a ideological battle over death of socialism and a general hatred of anything progressive, profitable or well made. The average UK motorist is cowed into buying an economy car. Expensive cars are no longer admired, and vandalism is high. I am hopeful that the Vauxhall Ampera my win hearts and educate people toward an EV future. However, I doubt it the UK is a land of whining, Anorak wearing, negative critics! Already the left condemn he Vauxhall Ampera as being not green, too luxury, American, capitalist, etc etc, UK Motoring critics, have praised the Ampera, (including Top gear), so the rest of the media must hate the car! The conservatives have grown weary of the EV failures and are largely disinterested. Only Boris Johnson remains an enthusiastic supporter. I purchased a UK built EV, suitable for both rural and city operation. The amount of abuse and even vandalism this unfortunate vehicle has attracted by outraged extreme 'green activists' is very disappointing. Convincing other Estate owners to spend the extra to purchase an LEVRR is very difficult when this is the reception the vehicle receives from the very people who should be supporting EV adoption. The negativity of the UK, depresses me each time I return to the land of my birth. But, that's just one man's impression, I may not be right, but it's my impression.
        Andy Smith
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        "general hatred of anything progressive, profitable or well made. " This has no foundation in truth, what a load of tosh and disrespect to the small manufacturers and quality manufacturers form the u.k. The innovation in motor,battery and other key areas in electric design is well known. Lets not forget lotus and their links with Tesla. I think you have your ex pat hat (glad I left) hat on. Yes the U.k is negative and pessimistic but that has never stopped innovation or creativiity, infact it's a veritable melting pot of creativity. Yes there are the anti-green activists who have been brain washed by top gear and the tabloid and broadsheet press into thinking anything electrically powered is crap. As you point out The auto mags have heaped nothing but praise on electrics. Having just read this weeks autocar, They gave a good review to the fluence and are road testing the leaf over a year.
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Andy Smith
          @Andy Smith You are quite right, the UK has always abounded in innovation and brilliant design engineering. Look at all the brilliant designs and creative innovators who have been born in the UK. Top Gear is a great example of innovative entertainment. However, it's still my opinion that if you look around, where do all these brilliant people wind up? Living in other countries! Don't get me wrong, I still love the land of my birth, but it breaks my heart to see a once great nation, where 80% of the populace delight in perversly preventing the brilliance of the other 20%. Why? The UK has spent the last 60 years, arguing a stupid class war about how to cut up the national cake. All the time the cake has grown smaller! It's not just the depressingly obtuse trade unions, or the overwhelming dependence on an ever more intrusive welfare state. The vast and hopeless bureaucracy, and the negative mean spiritedness of the management structure, its more of a general malaise, a delight in being shabby, and inefficient, just as long as no-ones getting ahead of each other. It's just easier to move somewhere less tiring, a country still basically British, (HRH Queen Elizabeth is asleep not 2 klms from me, as I type) , a country where the pursuit of excellence is praised, and achievement respected by 80% of the citizens. But, as I say, that's just my view. My brother would disagree. He loves the English countryside and lifestyle of the Home Counties.
      Alex
      • 3 Years Ago
      If it is congestion charge exempt it may take off in London, but in the rest of the country it is unlikely. You can buy a dozen new cars that are the same size & same quality & get 60+MPG for less than half the price. They have the added bonus of having proper range. Unlike in bits of the USA where one city is separated by hundreds of miles from another and you either have a massive journey or a short journey, there are many people who do medium length journeys of 75-250 miles each way every day/week/fortnight/month. The leaf whilst brilliant just does not have the range to cope.
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      Top Gear is trying to help. They recently released a positive review of the Chevy Volt: http://gm-volt.com/2011/10/19/top-gear-praises-the-volt/
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Laughing at your down vote for posting a link.... :D "No! Posting links bad! Down vote now!" :D
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        They liked the Fisker Karma as well: http://www.topgear.com/uk/photos/fisker-karma-2011-02-24 (I could swear I posted this once earlier...)
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          of course they like it. It is so inefficient and costly, it doesn't threaten their sponsorships.
      Andy Smith
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looking at a uk auto trader website, there are actually 8 nissan leaf's for sale at around 20-23k with low sub 5k mileage. Now we could take a positive and see that the value is still holding. But I think part of the reason may be to do with the uk's stupid vehicle licence plate laws and the changing of the model, which means dealers can't really sell a car as new because it quite clearly says that it is a '11 model that may be a year or two (eventually) old...oh and as other posters have mentioned, there's the economy, the fact that we have good mpg super mini's already and still a back log of orders
        Roy_H
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Andy Smith
        Wow, 8 whole cars for all of UK! Where will the dealers find room to park them all.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      2011 was certainly the year where global sales got into significant numbers despite very small selection and ridiculous prices. it'll be maybe 30-35k plugin cars in 2011 compared to maybe 4-5k last year and maybe 1500 before that. that's a serious progression. they won't maintain such explosive growth but as they lower the prices to something a bit more reasonable and we eventually get a fair price model then the number will really take off and EVs will be a common sight. then the numbers will grow steadily until some critical mass where everyone realizes that EVs are just cooler and it will snap past 50% of all cars. that will take some more efficiency optimized vehicles combined with newer cheaper batteries. the war was won in 2006 but still many battles ahead.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Dan, were you mean to PR? I see references, but evidently posts have been deleted.
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      The biggest problem is the lack of range. Why paying more for a lesser car. Also it's cold and dangeurous in winter. Really if they don't sell the solid state battery then it won't sale, period. Many drivers park in the streets or in a big parking beside the apartment building and don't have private driveway or a garage to plug-in all night. Also many many folks had problems in the past with problematic batteries for laptop or small appliances and they remember that and won't invest in a big ones with the same inherent defects. Really the world is now ready for something new and innovative: solid-state batteries or hydrogen fuelcells.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        We are ready for solid state batteries, and hydrogen fuel cells. Also, we are ready for Mr. Fusion - but, are any of these viable yet? Channeling Dan...
        Dave
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        That was nearly coherent.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      Dave, I think some people delegate looking at the blog to their cat, which randomly presses on the keyboard as there is no rational way that any human being with the intelligence of a mollusc could vote in the ways that sometimes happens. To look at travel patterns a little more, I live in Bristol and would not even think about driving the two miles to work in the centre. Apart from the shops etc most of my use would be on weekends to go for a fairly long run out to the countryside, outside the range of this generation of EV's I still only do around 6,000 miles/year so petrol would have to be at £10/gallon or so to make an electric car economic.
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