The electric vehicle revolution is running out of steam – by The Editorial Board (Financial Times – April 10, 2024)

Governments need to work with carmakers to reduce the obstacles to adoption

Thousands of imported vehicles, many of them electric cars made in China, are clogging up European ports. Along with falling sales at Tesla and BYD, the world’s two biggest sellers of battery-powered vehicles, it is a sign of trouble for the crucial shift towards green transport in the 21st century.

It was not supposed to be like this. Elon Musk made Tesla the world’s most valuable carmaker and one of the “magnificent seven” US tech groups by outflanking incumbents in luxury EVs. BYD is among the companies that transformed the Chinese market by making low-priced EVs with official backing, and are now expanding overseas.

But strains are emerging as governments and carmakers try to convert the market to EVs and to phase out internal combustion engines by the 2030s. Many car buyers are now balking at the prices of EVs compared with hybrids and petrol or diesel cars — particularly amid the rising the cost of living in recent years.

They are also worried by the lack of reliable and fast charging networks. A survey by S&P Global Mobility showed that about 45 per cent of consumers across countries cited concerns over the availability of charging stations, and the time required for charging, as reasons for not buying an EV.

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