Electric car revolution stutters on the start line

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Despite benefitting from generous government assistance and the support of several major manufacturers, the electric car revolution may already be running out of energy.

That was the verdict of the RAC Foundation this week, which found that the government scheme to promote interest in 'green' motoring had failed to ignite the public's interest.


At the centre of the problem is the high price of electric cars. Taxpayer subsidies mean it's possible to get up to £5,000 off the price of a brand-new EV, but even with the discount the current choice of models will set you back in excess of £20,000.

That's proving too rich for most consumers - especially when the eco-conscious buyer is well catered for with a range of cheap conventionally powered cars which emit less than 100g/km of CO2 and are therefore tax and London congestion charge free.

The RAC Foundation revealed that between April and June just 215 cars were bought under the Plug-in Car Grant, compared with 465 in the first three months since it was set up in January.

So-called range anxiety is also thought to be a factor in customers' minds - a problem not helped by the government's recent assertion that a comprehensive network of public charging points was "not the right approach".

In the coming years improved technology and manufacturing processes will slowly see the price of electric cars fall and their prospective ranges improve, but at the moment the segment looks like it could use a serious jump start.