A wave of electric cars will flood the market in the coming two years.
Until now, buyers flocking to buy battery cars faced a spartan choice, with several Tesla models available alongside a handful from established manufacturers.
But every carmaker will issue multiple models across Europe, with the aim of stealing a march on the growing market, and avoiding costly fines for missing tough new CO2 emissions rules.
EU rules state that from 2020 average CO2 emissions of cars sold by a company must fall below 95 grammes of CO2 per km. Fines are calculated at €95 per gramme over the target, multiplied by the total number of cars sold — meaning potential fines could run into the billions of euros.
Selling electric cars will bring “supercredits” that help manufacturers offset the impact of older polluting vehicles within their fleet as efforts to lower CO2 through traditional combustion technology have been frustrated by collapsing sales of diesel, which emits a fifth less CO2 than petrol.
Partly in response, carmakers are ramping up their launch programmes.
Jaguar Land Rover on Friday unveiled an electric Jaguar XJ saloon, vowing to build a series of battery cars in the UK at its Castle Bromwich plant.
Last month BMW accelerated its efforts, bringing forward its plans to launch 25 new electric or hybrid models from 2025 to 2023, and increasing the number of battery-only vehicles it plans to launch.
Others are seeking to push faster into the nascent market as well.
In the coming weeks Ford is expected to announce it will share Volkswagen’s electric technology, allowing the US carmaker to cut out the vast development costs of engineering battery vehicles from scratch.
The German carmaker has promised to release 50 models by 2025, as part of a €50bn drive into battery electric cars, the most ambitious investment by any carmaker to date.
However, despite the investments, consumer demand remains paltry.
Electric car sales across Europe remain at less than 2 per cent of the market but take-up is growing, with the industry expecting an inflection point within five years, as consumer concerns over the price of vehicles, and the distance they can drive on a single charge diminish.
The rollout of charging stations is also key to adoption, with several carmakers calling on governments across Europe to increase investment to alleviate motorist concerns they will not be left stranded on long journeys.