With news that private sales of electric vehicles fell in the U.K. last year and with the Prime Minister set to delay the looming ban on petrol vehicles, Patrick O’Flynn writes in the Telegraph that you’d have to pay him to buy an electric car.
Who remembers those simpler, happier days when the consumer was king? Retail outlets used to offer goods for sale and customers would just choose the stuff they liked.
Magically, the popular things would be restocked while items that failed to shift were not reordered, keeping the selection of goods for sale relevant to consumer trends. In those few areas where a state intermediary would order items on behalf of consumers – that shiny toilet paper that featured in school lavatories come to mind – one couldn’t help but notice that they tended to get it wrong. This is how Western capitalism used to work, without often badgering or ‘nudging’ consumers in particular, state-approved directions.
Not any more. These days the panjandrum intermediaries are usually in the driving seat, almost literally when it comes to sales of electric vehicles (EVs). Battery-powered vehicles have been flying out of showrooms thanks in large part to the fleet and company car sectors; parts of the market where the end users are not the folk who do the buying. Generous tax breaks have led to middle managers and delivery men up and down the land being presented with EVs when the time has come for them to get new wheels.
But recent sales figures show that it is a different story when it comes to private buyers. In the first half of this year just 37,000 battery-powered vehicles were sold to them, compared to 41,800 in the first half of last year. An astonishing 75% of new registrations is now made up by fleets and business owners. Electric cars are in danger of becoming the school loo paper of the modern age: better than nothing if you are given them for free or with discounts, but not what you would go for if the choice was yours.
This comes as no surprise to me. Down our street, where there is no off-road parking, two eco-friendly households have had electric vehicles which have involved them having to drape a power cable across the pavement under one of those three-sided anti-trip guards. They have both recently traded them in for petrol cars. Meanwhile, a close relative of mine drives a swanky EV but it is a company car. He pines for his old petrol BMW and bemoans the amount of aggravation involved in seeking-out recharging opportunities if he finds himself far from home.
Worth reading in full.