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CEO of a car dealer for reasons of hesitation with electric cars

CEO of a car dealer for reasons of hesitation with electric cars

A place to charge electric cars in London, UK

Keith Mayhew / SOPA Photos | LightRocket | Getty Images

The director of the large car dealer Pendragon has acknowledged the challenges in the electric car sector, but believes that adoption rates will increase in the future.

In a speech to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Wednesday, Bill Berman said powertrains needed to be changed, describing himself as “a big fan of electric vehicles.”

“I’m also a big fan of hydrogen – I think it has a role to play and I think it’s going to start getting a little stronger in the coming years,” he said. “People hesitate … around electricity is multifaceted,” he added.

“First, it’s unknown – no one has ever driven an electric car, so there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with it,” Berman said, referring to the fact that many people have not yet sat behind the wheel of an electric car.

“There is range anxiety, which most consumers shout. Although … most consumers drive less than 50 km a day, knowing that you can not easily refuel in your vehicle, it creates hesitation.”

Range anxiety refers to the idea that electric vehicles are not able to make long trips without running out of power and being stranded. To tackle this, adequate charging infrastructure must be developed in the coming years.

To this point, Berman explained how, in his view, there were challenges related to where a vehicle could be charged. “Most homes are not equipped with power supply, most office buildings do not have it,” he said.

“It’s a bit of the proverbial ‘chicken and egg’, but as more electric cars are sold and more infrastructure put in place – whether in North America, Europe or the UK – I think adoption rates will rise.”

Read more about electric cars from CNBC Pro

Changes seem to be on the horizon when it comes to the types of vehicles people use. The UK, for example, has plans to move away from the internal combustion engine and develop a net-zero transport sector by 2050.

It will stop the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2030 and require that all new cars and vans from 2035 have zero exhaust pipes.

Elsewhere, the EU Commission, the EU’s executive arm, is aiming for a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions from cars and vans by 2035.

As technology evolves and environmental concerns grow, the automotive industry looks set to make some significant changes in the coming years.

In his interview with CNBC, Berman sought to draw a picture of how it can become. “I think people will adopt … alternative modes of transportation,” he said.

“I think people will use different ways of commuting and getting around, as well as different powertrains … whether it’s electric, hydrogen.”

“At some point down the road, autonomous vehicles are coming,” he said. “And you know you can call a pod to pick you up, Uber-esque and … take you to the market every day.”

Headquartered in the UK and listed on the London Stock Exchange, Pendragon announced an underlying pre-tax profit of £ 35.1 million ($ 48.55 million) for the first half of the financial year. This compares with a loss of £ 31 million in the first half of the 2020 financial year.


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