back to article Electric car seller hits brakes as UK EV sales plunge

Electric cars sales have tanked in the UK. A mere 156 EVs were sold between January and October 2008, compared to 347 in the same period in 2007 - a drop of 58 per cent. To deepen the gloom, the Nice Car Company has gone into administration. Nobody was answering the phones at Nice this morning when Reg Hardware tried to seek …


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  1. Anonymous John


    I'm sure all car sales are down this year, especially in the last few months. There's a credit crunch, don't forget.

    American auto manufacturers are in trouble and may need Government bail-outs. It's not just a leccy car problem.

  2. Bruno Girin

    Car sales all round

    What about the fact that car sales ('leccy or not) have been in free fall recently? It's not just leccy tech that's feeling the pinch. People will do everything they can to keep their old car going rather than buy a new one in the current climate.

  3. Hollerith

    hesitated and now for too long

    Living in London, I toyed with buying a Leccy because I'd hoped to skim free of parking charges and because I wouldn't be pumping bad things into the air (let the electricity generator do that), but I was held back by the fact that (1) I have nowhere safe to plug the vehicle in the charge it (2) I need a vehicle that will take decent loads of shopping etc (3) I sometimes want to drive into the countryside, and make it back.

    While I hummed and hawed, no new leccies that answered my needs arrived, and now Nice, my first choice, is floating belly-up like a goldfish.


  4. Martin Lyne


    Never heard of these. But I only get my news from and El Reg.. shame. Also: yeah the quad/safety exemption thing would have put me off. Even if human death is the besat thing for the environment, I don't think it's a great marketing point.

  5. David

    They need more work!

    While the hybrids are pretty cool cars and generally well designed, I cannot see many people buying all-electric cars at this stage. They all look rather like they were designed by a vacuum cleaner manufacturer and still lack range and speed. They need to do a lot more to shake off the perception that they're one step up from a 1950s milk float!

    Most of us are not going to buy a car simply to totter around the city centre, particularly since in the UK and Ireland we have adopted the urban sprawl model of town planning. So, most of us do have to drive long distances in cars and need access to motorways / high speed roads. If you're living and working in a city centre location, you'll probably end up using public transport or walking anyway!

    Current all-electric vehicles can't really replace the existing car, we need something a little faster and sexier before people will switch over.

    At present, hybrid technology seems like a decent solution. I've got a Prius and I really can't fault it, it's a pleasure to drive and has excellent acceleration. The difference between this and the EVs is that it's actually made by a real car maker i.e. Toyota. Despite all of the 'boo hybrid's are for carrot munchers' type reviews on the likes of Top Gear, I have to say the Prius can go up a hill with more va! va! voom! than any car I've ever driven, including those with vastly bigger engines. The combination of petrol engine + instant high traction power from the electric motor really gives them quite a surprising amount of ummph! It's also getting me a massive car tax reduction in Ireland as it's rated "A" for CO2 output and it's definitely using a lot less petrol than an equivalently sized car.

    I'd go all-electric myself it they were a viable option, but unfortunately I'm not prepared to drive a washing machine crossed with a swatch watch...

    Perhaps a hybrid with a rechargeable plug-in battery might be a way forward. So, you could drive predominantly using electricity only in urban areas and then use the 'traditional' hybrid mix at higher speeds or where a burst of acceleration is needed.

  6. Dick Emery

    Like any good idea...

    ...if it means the government lose money they will find a way to screw it up.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart EV

    Could the leasing of the Smart EV be a factor in the decrease of sales?

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


    Electricity works out cheaper than petrol. If that was the main cost of an electric car, it would be worth scrapping the family's petrol cars and replacing them with electric today. The real cost of an electric car is replacing the battery once every year or two. There is no way that I will accept lock in to a proprietary battery. If there were standard sizes, I would take the risk that competition will keep the price reasonable. As it is, I will delay the decision until the cars we have become uneconomic to maintain. (There is a much more efficient alternative to batteries:-)

  9. jai

    the real reason?

    perhaps there are only 503 people in all of the uk who give enough of a damn about the environment to own/drive an EV

    the rest of us are perfectly happy filling our tanks with super unleaded at exhorbitant prices and burning up and down motorways at a decent speed that doesn't bore you to death and take 2 weeks to get anywhere

  10. jai

    re: they need more work!

    I saw this mini cooper at the motor show 2 years ago.

    apparently it's capable of 150 mph - that's forward or reverse!! they have to use the equivalent of an engine managment unit to control the acceleration so it does spin the grip off the tires.

    if all electric cars were like this, then a lot more people would have them i think

  11. Mike Tree

    @ Jai

    It's just not the right tool for the job. That's why I don't go to work on a bike either. It just wouldn't be practical.

    I probably wouldn't get to work and back on one charge.

  12. Jordan

    no surprises that Nice have gone under..

    Goingreen are doing quite well though selling the G-Wiz (I have one). Yes you may have to replace the batteries every 2 years or so, but it is still the cheapest car to drive around London, and incredibly convenient.

    The City Of London's decision to reverse their free parking for electric cars in their carparks is a biazzre u-turn in policy, especially considering that Westminster is installing on street electric charging as we speak!

    All electric cars are undoubtedly the future of personal transportation, thoughts on hybrids and fuel cell are ultimately futile. The cars need to look better and perform better, this will come in time. Meanwhile, I wouldn't trade my G-Wiz in for anything...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    are electric cars all so horribly fugly?

    they seriously expect people to buy those?

    (The lack of crash testing is also bad, I remember top gear doing a 30mph head on crash test with a gwiz which showed that is was completely terrible and would have failed a crash test.)

    Added to the lack of range of course, so you can't drive anywhere more than about 100 miles without 12 hours recharge time.

    I also hate all those idiots who say 'electric cars have no emission lol', they don't. Electricity isn't a natural resource, it has to be generated, which is about 80% non renewable.

  14. Richard Porter

    Shame, but they were ugly.

    It's a pity the NICE cars were so ugly. There was an absolutely cute prototype at the Excel show earlier in the year that was developed by Cranfield but the 'production' cars were horrible.

    Now if I could get a leccy car like the QED Mini at a sensible price I might be interested!

  15. chris

    So how come milk floats....

    So how come milk floats haul so much stuff, for so long, reliably, and for so many years?

    This is hardly rocket science!

  16. Jon H

    There is life outside of commuting in London...

    ...where we have to drive perhaps 30 or more miles to work, where we don't want to be cruising on a motorway where the next car's tyre is bigger than your whole car, where we put lots of shopping or suitcases or golf bags and other things into our adequately sized boots, where we want to travel in comfort, where we travel 20 miles through the countryside no where near a 3 pin plug, where we travel 200 miles to see family without having an overnight stop to "refill" our car...

    Sure, we will one day see electric cars on the road as common as a Ford Focus is now, but it won't be until they start selling us practical vehicles rather than these "toys".

  17. Tim Hughes

    Read up on the subject BEFORE commenting ...

    For people who have issues with:

    a) emissions: go read up on well-to-wheel efficiency ICE vs battery.

    b) battery life, performance, range, aesthetics: go see Tesla Motors.

    Obviously Tesla are struggling financially at the moment, but they show what can be done even with today's technology. All this in an industry where serious R&D has only just started ... just one significant advance in battery tech and the ICE car is heading the way of the dodo.

  18. T Wright

    Topsy turvey

    Never understood why with the current state of the evolution of electric cars. Everyones talking about doing 200 mile journeys up and down the motorway & needing 150 mph performance. how many people out of the whole car driving population do this everyday ?

    Really they should be linking up with other long haul carriers & car hire companies.

    For example electric car hire at train stations so people can hire an electric car to and from a station to jobs in a town or city.

    Why is the government not legislating to get middle class mums out of their 4x4's & into electric cars for the school run

  19. Richard Porter
    Thumb Down

    Topsy turvey?

    Mot people don't do 200 mile journeys every day, but they do them occasionally - holidays, visiting friends and relatives at Christmas, etc. They don't want to have a second car for those journeys or have to go to the bother of hiring one.

    Car (and bike) hire at stations would be fine if rail fares weren't so expensive. OK if you know exactly when you are travelling and can book in advance, but even then you can't just throw everything in the car and go.

    School kids ought to walk or cycle to school, or go on the bus!

  20. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Other reasons?

    Two other reasons I could see personally..

    1) Gas (err... excuse me, petrol..) prices have dropped. Here (Iowa, USA) they've dropped from a peak of over $4.20 to currently $1.69 per gallon. I know there's far more taxes in Britain but I assume there's probably still been a nice drop there as well. I'm not saying an electric car wouldn't still be cheaper overall (I really don't know) but it certainly can't help those sales any when the conventional fuel costs have dropped so far.*

    2) As Bruno says, all car sales are dropping, a lot.

    *Conspiracy-wise, I think OPEC realized they were putting a serious scare into people regarding fossil fuels, and have made sure to keep prices down again to avoid too many people getting super-efficient vehicles, electrics, etc.

  21. Tezfair
    Thumb Up

    a way forward?

    convert all the roads into scalextric tracks and then everyones electric cars have a way of being powered all the time.

  22. Dom


    Sorry, but these eletric cars are dangerous, ugly and just as polluting - where does electricity come from?

    And to the people who are annoyed that your electric skateboard now has to pay for parking - it is still a car isn't it? Is your vehicle taking up a parking space? Then pay for the privilige like everyone else.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Ugly electric cars - why???

    "Why,,, are electric cars all so horribly fugly?"

    They're ugly so people won't buy them! Why sell a car that doesn't need parts or maintenance? All I see marketed are "green" neighborhood EVs - small & ugly, not crash tested, and limited to a fast jog.

    Contrast that to the sleek and sexy hydrogen cars with 1,000,000 HP and the range of a gas guzzling ICE. You can drive cross country daily while using the exhaust vapor to make tea! Don't worry about the $1M price tag and lack of filling stations, those problems will disappear with a few more government handouts.

    But peek under the hood and what do you have? An electric drivetrain! So why not replace that pesky fuel cell and high pressure H2 storage tank with a few thousand laptop cells? Hmmmm....

    Mine's the one with the extension cord and flaming pockets.

  24. Dylan Fahey

    City of London, genetic rejects

    RETARDS, "City of London reversed its decision to exempt electric cars from parking charges. "

  25. Mike Wharton

    PML Flightlink mini

    The PML Flightlink mini is indeed capable of silly speed, can be made to recharge VERY quickly (matter of minutes) and is incredibly efficient at re-generative breaking. This is for a number of reasons...Partly because the motors act as the brakes and are hub mounted they are very efficient at turning kinetic energy into electrical energy and also because the batteries it used (i think) are nano li-ion rather than the more standard li-ion used in the Tesla and the crappy nickel metal hydride used in the prius (really old-hat technology now).

    The better batteries can charge much more quickly and therefore can store the huge influx of energy from the breaking system.

    The reason this car hasn't caught on is cost. The only other car with an equal setup is the British Electric Lightning and its rumoured to cost £120 - 180k.

    The problem is cost, not technology.

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