Mitsubishi has now temporarily stopped producing the Citroen C-Zero and Peugeot iOn.
Slow sales see Mitsubishi stall electric cars for Citroen and Peugeot.
Electric vehicle (EV) sales in Europe have been so slow, Mitsubishi has temporarily halted production of two electric cars based on its i-MiEV.
After sales of less than 1000 each, Mitsubishi has now temporarily stopped producing the Citroen C-Zero and Peugeot iOn which are rebadged versions of its i-MiEV. The slow global take-up of EVs has been mirrored in Australia with only 18 sold privately so far this year and 45 sold to government and business.
In Australia, Mitsubishi has sold only 12 i-MiEVs this year and none last month. The disappointing global sales have also hit the Nissan Leaf -- which sold 51 here this year -- and the Chevrolet Volt which goes on sales next month with a Holden badge.
However, the Australian market is also due for more EVs this year from Audi, Renault and Tesla. While many blame the slow take-up of EVs on high prices - Mitsubishi iMiEV ($48,800), Nissan Leaf ($51,500) and Holden Volt ($59,990) - Australian industry figures point to a lack of government subsidies.
Audi Australia product planning manager John Roberts said electric vehicles would not gain a foothold in the market without government incentives. "The manufacturers are more likely to drive volume with pricing and product than by government policy," he said.
Fuel economy campaigner and former Australian Rally champion Ed Ordynski said the issue of subsidies for electric vehicles was "way too bogged down in politics". "I don't think we'll see changes until there is a shake-out of local manufacturers," he said, pointing out that local manufacturers had no plans to produce electric vehicles, although several Australian companies are converting conventional cars such as the Holden Commodore to electric power.
"I don't think the government will offer incentives to produce locally so subsidies for electric vehicles would only be for full imports and that isn't going to happen." BMW Group Australia boss Phil Horton said government incentives would be a "relatively easy thing to do" and not necessarily expensive.
He suggested incentives such as cheap or free tolls, use of transit lanes, designated or cheaper parking spaces and discounts on licensing, registration and stamp duties. "At the moment, instead of any incentives there is the disincentive of the luxury car tax," he said. "Unless they take some steps to encourage electric vehicles, people won't buy them.
"Emissions and economy don't appear to be high on the list of the great majority of Australians and experience in other countries shows the only way to change that behaviour is with a carrot-and-stick approach. "It's my belief that Australia is the only market in the world that has electric vehicles available but no government subsidies," he said.
BMW is about to release its ActiveHybrid 5 Series, followed by a 3 Series model later this year, a 7 Series early next year, with a full electric car, the i3, in 2014, a plug-in hybrid i8 after that and possibly a range of electric scooters. "But there doesn't seem any willingness or interest from the government to do anything to encourage their take-up," he said.
A Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries spokesman says they have been discussing with the Government ways to increase consumer take-up of new fuel efficient technologies, including electric cars, within the context of reducing CO2 emissions. "We think it unlikely that Australia is the only country without incentives for EVs," the spokesman said.