2,629 electric vehicles have been sold in France in 2011

It doesn’t sound like much, but it was more sales than in Germany—a larger overall auto market—and more sales than in the UK, Spain and Italy combined. Besides raw sales numbers, France also leads when it comes to market share, but this is where the good news ends.

With 2,204,229 new cars sold last year in France, the 2,629 electrics cars are a very small piece of the pie. Worse, the most optimistic estimate is that fewer than 500 electric cars have been bought by individuals. There’s no official data, but it’s clear that most electric vehicles have been sold to fleet-buyers.

Many companies, government agencies, managers and administrators want to act green—well, sometimes, they just want to look green—and adding a few EVs to the fleet helps. We should expect this movement to significantly grow in 2012. Several government agencies have already said they will buy hundreds of EVs this year. There’s also the Parisian Autolib car-sharing service, which is expected to grow by more than 2,500 electric cars in 2012.

Altogether, there should be more than 6,500 electric cars sold in France this year, and that is without a French individual buying a single one. There should also be as many commercial vehicles, with thousands of electric Renault Kangoos going to the postal service. It’s then a safe bet to say that France will be the leading country when it comes to having EVs on the road. But that doesn’t say anything about electric cars being successful with new cars buyers.

Laurent J. Masson, www.plugincars.com/user/laurent-j-masson