Ambitious government plans to boost the automotive sector and encourage motorists to buy electric vehicles have been a flop, a Commons inquiry has found.
MPs criticised a pilot scheme running in the Midlands which was supposed to deliver 500 public plug-in points for electric cars – after just 100 were built.
And there is no easy way for motorists to find the charging points which do exist, MPs warned.
Government grants designed to subsidise electric vehicles were also failing to convince motorists to give up traditional petrol cars, MPs said.
Louise Ellman, chair of the Commons Transport Committee, said: “So far, Department for Transport expenditure on plug-in cars – some £11 million – has benefited just a handful of motorists.
"We were warned of the risk that the Government is subsidising second cars for affluent households; currently plug-in cars are mostly purchased as second cars for town driving.”
The findings were published by the Committee following an inquiry which heard evidence from Coventry University, manufacturers including Toyota and General Motors and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which represents the automotive industry as a whole.
The Midlands is a pilot area for a government scheme called Plugged-In Places which is supposed to provide charging points for electric vehicles, in an attempt to make them more attractive to motorists.
Launching the scheme in December 2010, Ministers announced that the Government was providing £2.9 million to install more than 500 charge posts in high profile locations, including shopping centres and railway stations, in Coventry, Birmingham, Worcester, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Corby and Northampton.
But figures obtained by the Transport Committee revealed that only 100 chargepoints have so far been installed across the Midlands as part of the scheme.
And a national registry of chargepoints designed to help motorists find them was inaccurate, the MPs found.
They said in a report: “We instead found that the National Chargepoint Registry was far from comprehensive, lacking even the location of the majority of chargepoints installed with public funds.
"Further work is required before this resource can be made useful for the public.”
A number of West Midland businesses and councils also took part in a project called Cabled, which was designed to “showcase” electric vehicles by making 110 vehicles available to motorists and monitoring how they were used.
Firms such as Mitsubishi and Jaguar Land Rover were involved as well as Coventry University, Aston University and Coventry and Birmingham city councils.
But while the automotive industry was investing in plug-in vehicles, government incentives designed to encourage motorists to buy them were having mixed success, the MPs found.