Optimism for electric car prospects is diminishing, KPMG survey says

Article by Anita Panait, on February 11, 2013

Auto executives are not as optimistic about the prospects of electric cars, according to a recent global survey by accounting firm KPMG. Around 8 percent of the 200 auto executives surveyed said their respective companies would invest on pure battery technologies over the next five years. Carmakers are scaling down their r&d money on pure battery technologies due to weak sales of their electric cars.

They are shifting the money to downsized gasoline engines and hybrids. Auto executives also said in KPMG’s survey that they are becoming more pessimistic on how many years it would take electric cars to offer the greatest potential to become a major player in the market for clean and efficient engines, with majority of them saying that time frame is six to 10 years.

The respondents’ time frame in this year’s survey is significantly longer than in 2012, when they said it would take one to six years. In conclusion, KPMG said that the results show an increasing realization that the electric vehicle is not “quite the savior many had hoped for.”

Nissan Leaf was the top-selling electric car in Europe, but only 5,341 units were sold in 2012, according to the carmaker. This fell below the target that Nissan executives disclosed to Automotive News Europe in June 2012, at 9,000 units for the Leaf. According to data from the European Association for Battery, Hybrid & Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (Avere), carmakers sold 15,272 electric cars in the European Union as of October 2012.

One of the reasons for the dismal sales performance of electric vehicles is they are far more expensive than same sized gasoline- or diesel-powered cars, despite thousands of euros in government incentives. In the United Kingdom, the Leaf costs £23,490 (EUR27,960) even after a £5,000 government-funded discount. It is far more expensive than the similar-sized Nissan Qashqai, which is offered with a starting price of £16,595.

Topics: electric car, survey

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