The second pledge car companies have stuck to and achieved is the breadth of consumer choice. When that first Leaf appeared in 2011, drivers had a choice of nine plug-in cars. Now motorists can choose from 140 pure electric and plug-in hybrid models, with another 50 due to arrive by the end of 2022. We’ve gone from plug-in purchases accounting for one in every 1,000 cars bought, to one in five new car registrations today. You can buy a pure electric SUV, sportscar, hatchback, saloon, estate or supercar now. And, importantly, car makers are designing electric cars from the ground up, instead of trying to shoehorn a battery and motors into an existing ICE platform. This final step in particular should iron out some of the common issues of previous electric cars such as the cramped boot or passenger space, and the general feeling that you were getting a marginally worse (and more expensive) version of the fossil-fuelled version.
The most shining example to date is the superb Maserati MC20 supercar which comes to market ready for petrol, hybrid and pure electric powertrains, and happens to be the most perfectly resolved supercar on sale right now. It’s an astonishing achievement, but one that gets consistently swept under the carpet because the ownership experience is still well below par thanks to the lack of an extensive charging network. A disappointing 75 per cent of motorists say there are still not enough charging points to meet their needs. This is a crying shame, because it tarnishes the entire ownership proposition. But the rest of the experience makes perfect sense: running costs are so much lower, thanks to benefit-in-kind tax advantages, no congestion charges, lower servicing costs and so on.