"British brands are way behind in the race for an affordable, desirable electric car"

When it comes to making popular small electric cars, Mike Rutherford thinks the likes of Jaguar Land Rover need to step up

Opinion British EVs

That's it, end of Round 1; electric vehicles have just been through their first full, proper, revolutionary decade on sale to a still-cautious public. The positives from 2010-2020? State-of-the-art EV tech, advances and surprises have been phenomenal; many pure-electric cars became more fun to drive than their combustion-engined counterparts; the EV-inspired reduction in air and noise pollution helped the planet and its peoples, particularly those in urban areas.

Negatives? Too many retail prices for pure-electrics remain prohibitively high; claimed mileage/range figures published by over-optimistic manufacturers are a disappointment; and we must concede that the UK’s flawed charging infrastructure must be scaring off some potential EV buyers. 

Another colossal issue for a motor industry that’s still new to this EV lark is finding the correct balance; the sweet spot that encompasses crucial consumer demands. They include (in alphabetical order): affordability of vehicles/insurance; desirability/image; levels of on-board tech/ power; range; size and type of vehicle. 

With internal combustion-engined cars, it was comparatively easy to strike the right balance, to give the customer exactly what he or she wanted, and at appropriate prices. Volkswagen was the master of this art from the 1970s to 2010s thanks to its car for the people, the Golf. In petrol or diesel guise, prices were sensible (from £20k-ish in today’s money), the design understated, with reasonable spec, power and space for occupants, all securely wrapped in a classy mid-sized hatchback body.

But now, with the EV game being a newer, harder, more complicated and expensive battleground, it’s not enough for VW to plonk an electric motor under the skin of a Golf as an afterthought. The purpose-built ID.3 is tasked with inheriting the ‘car for the people’ crown from the Golf, now in the late autumn of life. But outside and inside, the ID.3 lacks the class and near-premium look/feel of its old-school brother. As for the real-world range of well under 200 miles for the ID.3 I recently drove, that was desperately disappointing.

But if committed, paying electric-car customers in Britain, mainland Europe and Scandinavia are anything to go by, the ID.3 is already one of the more desirable EVs on sale in these parts of the world. In 2020 the long-established Renault Zoe and Tesla 3 were, respectively, first and second in this EV sales league table. But the just-launched ID.3 was third. Meanwhile, the Hyundai Kona Electric, Peugeot e-208 and Kia e-Niro were some of the other rising stars that made it into the Top 10. 

It’s therefore clear that small or small-to-medium pure EVs are the ones that represent the right balance for the vast majority of paying customers in and around Europe. Equally clear is that the Germans, Koreans and French are the current champs in terms of generating EV desirability and sales in the western world. The Americans, Chinese, Japanese and Italians are in the chasing pack. Meanwhile, we Brits are some way behind all of the above. Baby, entry-level Jag and Land Rover EVs can’t come a day too soon.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

Recommended

Used Nissan Leaf (Mk1, 2011-2017) review
Used Nissan Leaf Mk1 - front
Nissan Leaf Hatchback

Used Nissan Leaf (Mk1, 2011-2017) review

A full used buyer’s guide on the Nissan Leaf covering the Leaf Mk1 (2011-2017)
22 Oct 2021
New Kia EV6 2021 review
Kia EV6 front tracking
Kia EV6

New Kia EV6 2021 review

With a sporty drive, 300-plus miles of range and plenty of tech - could the new Kia EV6 be one of the best electric cars on sale?
19 Oct 2021
Best electric cars to buy 2021
Best electric cars
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2021

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
19 Oct 2021
New 2022 Tesla Model Y: prices start from £54,990 in the UK
Tesla Model Y
Tesla Model Y

New 2022 Tesla Model Y: prices start from £54,990 in the UK

Just two versions of the Tesla Model Y SUV will be offered – a Long Range model with a 315-mile range and a Performance version with a 298-mile range
15 Oct 2021

Most Popular

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV
Range Rover leak - front
Land Rover Range Rover

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV

Images of what could be the next Range Rover have appeared on social media ahead of next week’s reveal
21 Oct 2021
New Hyundai Ioniq 6 targeting Tesla Model 3 with 311-mile range
Hyundai Ioniq 6 - watermarked
Hyundai

New Hyundai Ioniq 6 targeting Tesla Model 3 with 311-mile range

The new Hyundai Ioniq 6 saloon will join the Ioniq 5 in the brand’s all-electric line-up and our exclusive image previews how it could look
21 Oct 2021
New Kia EV6 2021 review
Kia EV6 front tracking
Kia EV6

New Kia EV6 2021 review

With a sporty drive, 300-plus miles of range and plenty of tech - could the new Kia EV6 be one of the best electric cars on sale?
19 Oct 2021