By 2025, California law mandates that EVs account for 15% of sales in that state. This should bring about a sea change in the industry, given that only two car models, Tesla and the Nissan Leaf, were able to shift more than 1000 units during the f irst quarter of 2013. But to put these figures in perspective, Ford’s F-Series pick-ups sell at a rate of over 2000 units a day
EV sales have doubled in the first few months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. But there is a caveat. “For the next 10 years,” says Jochem Heizmann, head of Volkswagen in China, “generally plug-in hybrids have a much better chance to become a relevant volume in comparison to just fully electric cars.”
To y o t a ’ s Ch a i r ma n Ta k e s h i Uchiyamada, believes that “hybrid vehicles without a doubt will become a necessity” in China’s growing market.
Compared to China’s total car market, of more than 19m vehicles sold per annum, the EV market remains tiny. But if California’s green laws look tough, China’s are hardly a doddle either. Beijing wants 500 000 hybrids and EVs in circulation by 2015, and 5m by 2020. Even with China’s government incentives, consumers bought fewer than 12 000 EVs in China in 2012.
Purchase costs and a lack of infrastructure limit the market. Experts say subsidies in EVs are misplaced and should be directed towards hybrids, which have the plug-in option, are less expensive and require a slower roll-out of infrastructure.
One option would be to simply tailor subsidies to fuel efficiency – in other words greater subsidies for greater efficiencies.