Developing

Electric Cars Lose Their Spark With Buyers

The brakes have been put on the rush to electric vehicles, according to a survey of 200 global motor industry leaders.

Details released in an annual survey by KPMG show that interest in electric cars has waned as increased fuel efficiency becomes a prime factor in purchasing decisions.

KPMG International's Global Automotive Executive Survey also found that as emerging markets edge towards a predicted 50% share of new vehicles, countries such as China, India and Brazil set the strategic plans of car firms.

It also found that the rising middle class in emerging markets are also more interested in upscale traditional vehicles than austere, frugal models.

The report found that "in the last 12 months the optimism over electric cars has dampened considerably among car makers.

KPMG added: "The initial excitement about the potential of e-mobility has subsided somewhat."

Autocar deputy editor Matt Burt told Sky News electric vehicles (EVs) never fully sparked for the public.

"Despite the best efforts of car makers to highlight the benefits of EVs, car enthusiasts have never really fallen in love with them," Mr Burt said.

"Consumers remain unconvinced due to issues such as battery range, the perceived difficulty of recharging and vehicle cost, which is still prohibitively high for most families despite Government grants and incentives."

While interest in battery power has drained away and some manufacturers move towards fuel cell technology, a renewed shift towards traditional engines is taking place.

The emergence of oil and gas production increase through fracking technology is further halting a shift away from hydrocarbons.

A third of car makers now intend to develop traditional internal combustion engines (ICEs), and while 25% intend to explore plug-in hybrids only 8% said they would seek battery technology.

"A majority of respondents now believe that internal combustion engine downsizing offers the best chance for fuel efficiency over the next decade," the report said.

Mature markets such as Britain have seen a trend in smaller cars ownership and the Government has targeted owners with larger engines through increased road tax levies.

"By 2018 it seems likely that electric vehicles will form one small part of an increasingly varied car market, alongside hybrids, extremely efficient ICE-driven vehicles and newer technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells and natural gas," Mr Burt said.

"Luxury cars and SUVs tend to offer bigger profit margins for manufacturers than family saloons and hatchbacks, so it will be no surprise to see car makers tailor their products to suit the tastes of rapidly expanding markets."