Electric shock treatment for dealers

  23 August 2010

Ever wondered if your manufacturer has got a plan B? If Glass’s recent prediction is right, within less than 10-years you are going to need a franchise which offers either an electric vehicle or a hybrid.

By the year 2020, getting on for a quarter of the new car market – 21% – will be accounted for by the two powertrain systems. Glass says that by the end of this decade you (or your competitors) will be selling 274,000 units of electric vehicles (11% of the market) and 235,000 hybrid units (10% of the market). The figures are based on a new car market of just under 2.4m vehicles by 2020.

If Glass’s is correct (and I have also heard Renault quoting much the same figure) it is certainly going to be a game-changer.

But surprise, surprise. Chinese car dealers might be there before us. The state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission in Beijing said, only last week, that over the next three years, 500,000 electric vehicles would reach the market each year – although it was not clear whether that would be a mixture of passenger cars and commercial vehicles. In percentage terms it is quite small but then the Chinese vehicle market is expected to reach 17m this year.

Back in Europe, something called the Zero Race started in Geneva this week. It’s more of a rally than a race as four teams driving electric vehicles set-off on a 18,000-mile, 80-day spree to raise awareness about environmentally friendly vehicles and to traverse the world without emitting a single pollutant.

Oh! Yes! It’s going to be an electric, rather than a hydrogen world in the future alright.

And dealers, too, need to start thinking about a B-Plan because I can foresee other non-auto retailers looking to get into EV sales. Something tells me that EVs could be seen by supermarkets as the real opportunity to do what they have always wanted; to start selling cars. That could be an unwelcome dose of electric shock treatment.

The Glass’s prediction is contained in a report entitled Alternative Powertrain Vehicles in Europe, due to be published later this month.

Have a great week, both in and out of the showroom. If you have a story for us, email barry@auto-retail.com
Barry Hook


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