Electric cars will not be able to compete with conventional cars on price until 2030, a report said on Tuesday.
The total cost of ownership - the upfront price and running costs such as fuel and insurance - of environmentally friendly electric vehicles is currently around £5,000 more than petrol and diesel cars, found the study undertaken by consultancy Element Energy and commissioned by the public-private Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LCVP).
The government's climate advisers wants to see 11m electric or plug-in hybrid models on UK roads by 2030, to meet the UK's carbon targets.
But even if fuel prices double to £3 a litre, the authors said, the overall cost of electric cars will be higher than conventional combustion engine cars. Electric cars today cost around £30,000 without a government grant of £5,000 - nearly double the equivalent petrol and diesel rivals. But they are cheaper to run, with a Nissan Leaf costing around 2p per mile compared to 14p for a Ford Focus.
Greg Archer, managing director of the LCVP, said falling battery costs would help electric cars compete in the next 15-20 years. "After 2020 the range of new technology will be more commercially available. It's obvious that there needs to be a reduction in the price of batteries and fuel cells to achieve market share and become competitive. It remains to be seen if [cost] reductions will be achieved, but these [the projections in the report] are not conservative estimates, they are the best estimates based on probability."
He added that there was a very small chance that electric cars and other alternatively fueled vehicles would become competitive by 2020, but said that was around a one in 20 likelihood. "Major technology takes a couple of decades before it receives parity with current technology," said Archer.