/ Motoring

2011 Frankfurt Motor Show: we’re bored of electric cars

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.


Spot on Rob.

As long as there is oil in the ground, I will continue to use a petrol car.
I don’t know why car companies are spending so much on this frankly useless technology. It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, if it cannot even come close to mimicking the performance of petrol, what is the point? They are giving people a poorer alternative to what they currently have therefore it will never take off, despite how fluffy their marketing campaigns are.

Alternatively the car companies could spend that money on working out how to produce hydrogen in a cheap and efficient way. Now there’s a solution.

Oil is used to make plastics and many other products we take for granted. I fear that the price will continue to rise as worldwide demand increases and supplies diminish. Hopefully by then there will be practical and affordable electric vehicles or other alternatives.

I just hope that they will find a new fuel to burn in the combustion engine, although this would have to be a converted diesel engine (I presume) and not a lovely high-revving creamy V8. Methane is just one gas we produce plenty of, but harness very little.

The only time I would buy an electric vehicle would be if it ran on hydrogen, then I could power my house on it aswell.

I will not fork out for the half-baked approach of hybrids (and their transit around the world) nor a fully electric car when clearly the infrastructure doesn’t exist and the range/charging issue is just too large.

I personally (as a cynic) feel that the world is controlled by OPEC and whilst it is in their interest for us to NOT have a power alternative, we will continue to get these pointless substitutes like hybrids/full electric (plug in).

If the answer is electric vehicles then please, someone, tell me what is the question?

We have hybrids which everyone laughed at 10 years ago but today prove a balance mix of petrol and electrics work (by the way where are all these other hybrids promised by every manufacturer – headline grabbers only whilst Toyota get on with it) – next are plug in hybrids making better of a good solution.

There is no demand for full EV and at the current cost never will be – I want my taxes spent on better solutions and not just given to the green brigade with limited sense and no ‘drive’,,,,,

John Lansdowne says:
2 September 2011

There are several mighty quick electric vehicles out there ,some with a motor at each corner.How about a system where you could call into a fuel station and pick up a canister of charged batteries, handing in your flat one for a fee so that it would operate like the calor gas cylinder system.Then you only buy one set ( or sets ) of batteries but have constant relacements available.design of vehicles and batteries would involve manufacturers talking and working together.
There is a finite amount of crude oil out ther so electric vehicles, charged by our local rivers may not be that far away.

Lets face it, most critics of hybrids have not experienced on and are just on the Clarkson comedy bandwagon.
My Lexus GS450h hybrid is in the BMW 5 series class of car. It performs like a 4.5l V8 but returns over 30 mpg around town.
On the open road it gets to 62 in less than 6 secs (if that’s what you’re into) and goes like a rocket sled if you put you foot down at 70 (not that one would).
The auto box is as smooth as you could wish with a constant power delivery but I guess the hybrid haters hate autos as well even though they’ve not tried them either. I also guess most of them will only ever see the back of a GS…..a 340bhp hybrid.

Wow, 30mpg, that really must be worth the massive outlay 😉

a) don’t be a lazy auto driver, buy a manual and you will get better mpg (providing you know how to drive properly)
b) You have an electric engine in your car that causes masses of emissions to create (production/transit/production/transit) and yet you only get 30mpg, why not buy a diesel?


c) You have clearly bought your car to feel smug when in fact, buying a hybrid is the most hypocritical attempt to be “green” I have ever seen, especially a 4.5 V8, ridiculous

In answer to Rob Hull’s article, no I am not bored with electric cars. However he has a point stating the technology is well short of tempting most people into electric power.
I am much more interested in hybrids which offer a viable alternative to the straight combustion engine albeit at a cost.

B. Roberts says:
7 September 2011

what is the point of electric cars that will only do 60 miles then need 8 hours to recharge ,plus £7000 for new batteries after 3 years. how long would it take for me to drive to Scotland from the north west Now 8 hours with electric 8 days.
lets get the diesels running better then that would prov a better enviorment prospect