London, England – Sales of electric cars have dropped by more than half this year in Britain, according to a report from CleanGreenCars. Only 156 were sold from January to October 2008, compared to 374 for the same period in 2007.

One of London’s two electric car distributors, Nice Car Company, recently went into bankruptcy. Set up in 2006, the company had been selling an all-electric version of the French-made Aixam Mega and had planned to bring in a range of new models by the end of the year, including a two-seater and a multi-purpose vehicle, but sales had dropped to fewer than one car a week.

“While volumes are still tiny, any drop in electric car sales will come as a shock to most people,” said Richard Bremner, editor of CleanGreenCars. “Perhaps the market for quirky electric vehicles like the Mega City and G-Wiz have had their day. Buyers could be holding off for cars from mainstream manufacturers, although they may still have years to wait before mass production is a reality.”

There are around 1,100 all-electric cars currently on U.K. roads. The vast majority are owned by Londoners and are quadricycles, rather than fully type-approved cars.

CleanGreenCars suggested that reasons for the drop in sales include a proposal to exempt sub-120 g/km CO2 gasoline and diesel cars from London’s congestion charge, which turned away many buyers in the interim prior to the proposal being scrapped; questions regarding the safety of the quadricycles, which are not required to undergo crash tests as standard cars are; the exemption of parking charges in the City of London for electric cars was rescinded in June 2008, which eliminated a savings of up to £4,000 per year for those regularly parking in the city; and many early adopters have become wary of buying from independent companies, especially as mainstream car companies have announced plans to bring electric cars to market.

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