“Systematic mis-selling” over electric car range, MP alleges

Consumers are repeatedly being told that the range of electric cars is longer than its real-world performance prior to purchasing according to Labour MP Helen Goodman.

The former minister said motoring officials have been misleading customers in a “serious breach” of consumer rights and trade descriptions, citing her experience of owning a Nissan Leaf.

She told the Commons how the dealership and Nissan suggested its range was 125 miles (200km) although the maximum it had forecast when fully charged was 85 miles.

Goodman also noted how last week her Leaf “conked out” after 14 miles when it stated it had enough charge for 22 miles.

Her concerns emerged as MPs completed the remaining stages of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill in the Commons. 

The Bill includes outlining improved access to charging points and when insurers are liable where an accident is caused by an automated vehicle.

Speaking in the Commons, Goodman told MPs: “I’m also slightly concerned that there has been some systematic mis-selling and some systematic over-inflation on the range of electric cars.”

She said she was informed by a car dealership in Darlington of the vehicle’s 125-mile range, which would allow her to undertake a round trip on one charge from her Bishop Auckland constituency to Newcastle for regional events.

But Ms Goodman added: “When I collected the car, it was charged up to 75 and I said ‘Well, hey, this is 30 per cent less efficient’ - it’s like buying a box of eggs and instead of six you open the box and there are only four; this is really not acceptable.

“They tweaked it around a bit but ... I’ve never charged it up more than 85 miles. That is very different from being told it’s 125 miles.

“Indeed, having looked at the Nissan website this is not just the dealer who I spoke to, this overemphasis was on the Nissan website.

“The guy who came round to fit my pod point, to whom I explained this problem, said to me ‘Oh, I hear it all the time, people are constantly disappointed that their cars don’t have the range which they’re sold as having’.

“This is pretty fundamental – people need to know what they’re buying and what they’re getting, and a 30 per cent reduction in the capacity of what the car can do is a very significant difference.”

Meanwhile former transport minister John Hayes aired his concerns that the arrival of electric and autonomous vehicles could spell an end to local garages and mechanics.

He said he wanted to ensure the skills to repair and service the new wave of high-tech vehicles were widely spread across the country and “not simply owned by large corporate companies”.

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