Spain is unlikely to meet its target of 1m electric cars on the roads by 2014 unless it steps up incentives to promote the vehicles in a country with one of Europe's worse environmental profiles, industry observers told just-auto.

"This kind of goal is unrealistic in a market with a very limited offer of electric cars and without the introduction of more segment-specific incentives," a top official with trade union CCOO said.

Currently, Spain charges zero registration tax for 'eco' cars emitting less than 120g/km and 4.75% for cars emitting 120g/km-160g/km of CO2.

A fresh trade-in plan called VIVE offers EUR1,040 to drivers who swap their old car for a new, lower-emissions vehicle that puts out less than 140g/km of CO2. The first five years' finance are interest-free, too.

But the union official said these incentives - while helpful - are not enough to build the market.

"To think of electric cars making up about 10% of yearly sales starting this year is a huge number of cars," he said, adding that the necessary (recharging network) infrastructure to support the cars is non-existent.

Late last month, Spain's industry minister Miguel Sebastian said he wanted Spain to have 1m electric cars by 2014 as part of a package to cut energy consumption.

He said the auto manufacturing sector - Europe's third largest - could also make that volume of cars in six years and that the state would encourage manufacturers to make them.

Sara Pizzinato, who heads Greenpeace Spain's transport campaign, said the government's goals look hypocritical in light of the polluting electricity network, which is only 11% powered by renewable energy.

"While electric cars are more efficient and less polluting, this plan won't really make much of a difference unless it is accompanied by an ambitous plan to promote renewable energy," Pizzinato told just-auto, though she noted Spain is working to increase renewable-energy output to 30% by 2012.

Pizzinato was also sceptical that eco car sales can double by 2012 without European legislation to remove higher polluting vehicles.

The EU is currently looking at ways to limit the sale of cars emitting more than 100g/km of CO2 by 2020.

This plan would also have to include more ambitous sale incentives.

"Spain has been the worse European performer of Kyoto and transport accounts for 25% of emissions," Pizzinato added. "A European obligation [to ban higher polluting cars] would work for sure."

Ivan Castano Freeman

Renault sees more countries signing up for EVs