The Frankfurt Motor Show is just weeks away and preparations have begun at Which? HQ. We’re discussing the cars that will be unveiled and it’s all looking very familiar – electric cars are dominating again.
It would take a catastrophic oversight to go to Frankfurt on September 12 not expecting electric cars and battery-powered concepts to dominate the show. But with very few people even considering buying EVs (electric vehicles), are these really the cars worth showcasing?
Looking at the recent figures for the uptake of the Plug-in Car Grant, the answer is a resounding no. The scheme, which offers £5,000 off the price of electric and plug-in hybrid cars, has attracted frankly pathetic numbers of people willing to make the switch over to battery-powered ‘zero-emissions’ vehicles.
We aren’t willing to adopt EV
According to recent reports, just 680 individuals and businesses have dipped into the £42m pot of cash made available by the Government to tempt us into buying an electric or plug-in car. And the fact is, the majority of UK motorists aren’t likely to go electric anytime soon either, unless there are some real developments in the technology to make these vehicles more practical, affordable and realistic to live with.
Graham Forecast agreed with these sentiments in a previous electric car Conversation, saying:
‘Pure electric cars will never be successful until both the range is significantly increased and recharging can be done quickly at a ‘filling station’. Even those people lucky enough to have a garage where they can install a power point still have to rely on a charging point at their destination. Until that happens only the rich will buy one as a plaything, and they should certainly not be given £5,000 of our money.’
Carmakers have been well aware of the general public’s unwillingness to adopt an EV, but the previous large-scale European car show, the Geneva Motor Show, was still a hotbed of lithium-ion batteries, regenerative brakes and extension cords. And it appears that Frankfurt won’t be too dissimilar. But how intrigued are you about another influx of Duracell-Daimlers and EverReady-Renaults?
Let’s focus on cars that people want
What I’m not going to do is articulate the current pitfalls of these cars – the shortcomings of EVs have been painstakingly catalogued by Which? and just about every other motoring-focussed publication. But I will pose this question: are you really bothered about seeing this abundance of new electric cars when, realistically, you’re not going to be convinced to buy one in the near future?
My opinion is that, no matter how a carmaker tries to portray it, electric cars aren’t going to be universal anytime soon, especially not within the next five years. So, once I’ve donned my comfiest shoes, it’ll be the conventionally-powered cars that I’ll be most interested in whilst tearing around Frankfurt.
These are the cars most of us will be buying or looking to buy in the upcoming 48 months, so having a first glance at them is something I’m getting a little excited about already. However, I do fear press conferences and show stands are going to be overwhelmingly electric biased, casting a shadow of unimportance over the cars that will be parked on our streets in 2012.
Which? Car will be bringing you full coverage from the show of all the cars that are important to UK consumers, but, until then, let us know which ones you’d like to see more and less of.