POLITICS

Lagging electric car sales force Europe to make more modest climate goals

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger

The European Union is revising its ambitious carbon emissions goals and electric car makers are looking for new ways to meet those goals, because no one is buying electric cars.

The EU has been aggressively pushing eco-friendly car sales, hoping to meet its goals by getting more low-emissions cars on the road.  But the chances of reaching those goals is looking dim, Reuters reports, because no one is buying electric cars.

“Demand for electric cars isn’t where we thought it would be,” Francois Bancon, Nissan’s upstream development chief, told Reuters. “We’re in a very uncertain phase, and everyone’s a bit lost.”

Even Denmark, which has a relatively high number of electric cars per capita, has downgraded expectations from 400,000 electric cars by 2020 to 200,000, the Copenhagen Post reported in January.

The EU is turning to new rules to boost demand. European Union climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard has proposed installing 795,000 charging stations across the EU by 2020 to make electric vehicles more viable for drivers.

“We can finally end the discussion about the chicken and the egg when it comes to whether the infrastructure needs to be present before the electric car market explodes,” she wrote on the European Commission website. “It has to make sense to buy an electric car and it doesn’t if you can’t even drive halfway across the country without running out of charge.”

As of November 2012, about 15,000 electric vehicle charging stations had been installed in Europe, according to Environmental News Service.

Car makers are trying to do their part. At the Geneva car show this week, Volkswagen presented a diesel-electric XL1,  while PSA Peugeot Citroen rolled out a compressed-air hybrid, Reuters reports.

“By now we would have seen a standardization based on the pure electric car if it had turned out to be the solution,” Guillaume Faury, Peugeot’s executive vice president for research and development, told Reuters “That’s why we’re seeing so many micro-hybrids, mild hybrids, full hybrids, rechargeable hybrids, range extenders and battery cars.”

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