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Sales of electric cars reach record high

Government figures just released have shown that registrations of electric cars (EVs) that qualify for the government's £5,000 subsidy leapt to 1,149 during the third quarter of 2013. These are the highest sales figures since the scheme was first introduced in 2011. This was also a rise of 25% on Q2 figures. The news was countered by the revelation from Renault-Nissan chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, that those manufacturers would miss their own EV sales target.

Government figures just released have shown that registrations of electric cars (EVs) that qualify for the government's £5,000 subsidy leapt to 1,149 during the third quarter of 2013. These are the highest sales figures since the scheme was first introduced in 2011. This was also a rise of 25% on Q2 figures. The news was countered by the revelation from Renault-Nissan chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, that those manufacturers would miss their own EV sales target. Renault and Nissan had previously said that they would between them sell 1.5 million EVs by 2016 but have reassessed that figure to be achievable now by 2020 or 2021. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) put the Q3 sales figure slightly lower, at 978, but this is thought to be due to a lag in reporting lead times.

The Nissan Leaf was the first car for sale in the UK to be eligible for the government subsidy, a scheme that has remained in place through the government's austerity cutbacks. That car has been joined by a host of new competitors in the market, such as the Vauxhall Ampera, BMW i3 and budget priced Renault Zoe. Ford has also entered the market with an electric version of their best selling Focus. In the US, Tesla has been breaking sales records with their luxury electric models and these will be introduced into the UK in spring 2014. These new Tesla models are slated to cost around £55,000. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, recently claimed that sales of EVs were being held back by misinformation from oil industry lobbyists in a practice that he likened to earlier propaganda campaigns by big tobacco companies. He also suggested that governments should offer greater financial incentives to kick start the market in EV sales.

Commenting on Renaut-Nissan's performance on EV sales, Mr Ghosn said: "We will not be there on our 2016 target. At the speed right now, I'm seeing it more four or five years later." Ghosn also pointed to a lack of charging points, which the government is funding, to explain the lack of sales. He added: "We have to admit, it is slower than we thought. But it is slower for the reason that we thought infrastructure building would be faster. It is not." Nissan's Leaf is built in the UK at the company's Sunderland factory. It has been a sales hit in other European markets and in Norway became the country's best-selling car for many months, due to that country's tax breaks on EVs.

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