MISTAKEN ideas about electric cars must be overcome to help make them a major success, according to Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg.
Mr Clegg was speaking to a group of apprentices at Washington’s Nissan factory when he said more needed to be done to promote understanding of the electric vehicle industry.
The plant currently builds the world’s best-selling electric car, the Leaf.
Mr Clegg said: “People still think they are going to run out of battery power because people think they drive much longer distances than they actually do.”
The Deputy Prime Minster said he had spoken to renewable energy expert Elon Musk who had suggested more visible charging points were needed so “that people feel they are not going to be left with flat batteries”.
Mr Clegg added: “When you look at the reality, it’s a no-brainer. Electric cars have low maintenance costs, tax you don’t have to pay, and duties you don’t have to pay.
“It’s people who are resisting, worried they won’t be able to get from point A to point B.”
There has been criticism about the lack of use of electric vehicle charging points in Sunderland.
Figures obtained by the Echo last year revealed many of the city’s charging zones, costing thousands to install, have barely been used since going “live” in a blaze of publicity.
One point at a car park in Seaburn has been used just twice since last July.
Automotive industry expert professor Garel Rhys told the Echo that the figures should be a wake-up call that the cost of the vehicles is going to have to come down considerably before people start buying them.
He said: “Cost is the key. While electric cars like the Leaf remain highly priced, they will not be able to compete against an already excellent product in the petrol and diesel vehicle.”
Mr Clegg was at Nissan to announce the £87.5million City Deal package which will include the building of a new manufacturing park next to the factory to help attract companies in the car giant’s supply chain.