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Ouch. Only 55 electric vehicles (EVs) were registered in the UK in 2009, a 90 percent drop compared to the 397 registered in 2007, the best-selling year for EVs there. It's not clear exactly why last year's sales were down so much, but there are at least two ways to look at it. The numbers come from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders as reported in The Guardian.

First, the pessimist's view: Nobody wants to buy EVs because they're too expensive and don't meet driver needs. Throw in a recession – only two million new vehicles of any type were registered in 2009, the lowest level since 1995 – and you've got a recipe for EVs sitting on the lot. Even though they can avoid the expensive London congestion charge, EVs just didn't catch on in the UK. And anyway, that charge is shrinking and changing, so why bother getting an EV when a clean diesel vehicle will soon be exempt, too?

Second, the optimist's take: Why would anybody buy an EV in 2009? If you were seriously considering buying an EV at that time you would probably know that a very exciting batch of plug-in vehicles were coming in late 2010 and 2011. After all, half of the EVs sold in 2009 were G-Wiz models, which pretty much require mother's heart to love. Also, the government is going to start offering a £5,000 subsidy off the cost of new electric cars in January 2011, so the smart thing to do is to wait until that money becomes available, right?

Count us as having our feet firmly planted in the second camp, with at least a little toe in the first.

[Source: The Guardian]

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