Between the Hyundai Kona electric, the Nissan Leaf, and of course, the Tesla Model 3, electric cars with usable real-world ranges are no longer just for the rich. Each of these models can drive well over 100 miles on a full charge for a price around £30,000. Of course, premium options are still on offer such as the Jaguar I-Pace. But this new group of cars brings zero-emissions motoring to the masses. With better incentives and more tariffs placed on petrol and diesel cars (as well as fuel) it’s a matter of when and not if you will be driving an electric car.
The sales leader at the moment is the Tesla Model 3 with 6,250 sold in the US in May 2018, nearly double the 3,875 sold in April. Tesla dominates the charts with its Model S and Model X taking the third and fourth place positions, despite each one being a premium product.
In Europe it’s a different story. As of June 2018, Nissan has sold the 100,000th Leaf to a customer in Spain, making it the world’s best-selling electric car ever. “European Nissan LEAF customers,” Nissan says, “have now driven over 2 billion kilometres and saved over 300,000 tonnes of CO2.” The company boasts more than 37,000 orders for the new car in Europe alone with one new Leaf sold every 10 minutes.
Nissan also predicts that as soon as 2020 charging points will outnumber petrol stations in UK. Its report found that the number of petrol stations in the UK at the end of 2016 compared with 40 years prior had dropped by more than 75%. If it continues, by summer 2020 there will be fewer than 7,870 petrol stations in the UK while the number of charging points will have grown to 7,900 at its current rate.
“As electric vehicle sales take off,” Edward Jones, EV manager at Nissan UK, “the charging infrastructure is keeping pace and paving the way for convenient all-electric driving. Combine that with constant improvements in our battery performance and we believe the tipping point for mass EV uptake is upon us.”
For the Hyundai, it’s a mixed bag. The Kona EV is an all-electric version of the company’s entry level SUV and in Norway, one of the biggest markets for electric cars, it has sold well. A little too well. The Korean company had to close the order books after more than 20,000 people in the Nordic country expressed their interest. Sadly, only 2,500 Kona Electrics will be allocated to Norway this year as the company needs to balance its limited production capacity between a number of markets.
But while Norway is synonymous with electric cars, it’s China that leads the way. 680,000 cars, busses, and trucks were built in the country. More than 200,000 of these were commercial vehicles which would ordinarily be some of the largest polluters. In 2017 Shenzhen completed the task of converting its entire bus fleet to pure electric vehicles with other cities expected to follow. The country is also leading the way in charging infrastructure with 214,000 built at the end of 2017 with an addition of 232,000 private chargers in people’s homes.
Nobody could’ve predicted such massive numbers a decade ago. As rising fuel prices and the ongoing threat of man-made climate change continues to loom over us, finding an alternative way to get around becomes so much more important.