The European Commission’s forecast of a 3-4% market share for electric cars by 2020 is unrealistic, chief executive of Volvo Cars Stefan Jacoby told an industry seminar in Brussels on Tuesday. The EU executive expects the share to rise to 30% by 2030.

The forecasts were made in the commission’s strategy on clean and energy-efficient vehicles, the main aim of which is to boost the uptake of electric cars. “Industry studies indicate several member states are overestimating the speed at which electrified vehicles are being introduced,” Mr Jacoby told the seminar’s participants.

The cost of battery technologies is not going down fast enough because the EU lacks coordinated incentives, he added. Because of this, “the market share for electrified vehicles will struggle to pass the 1% mark by 2020”.

Mr Jacoby also fears that the incentives needed to spur more significant uptake are being threatened by Europe’s debt crisis. A consultancy study published by the commission’s climate department also warned about the risk of an “electric depression” after 2012 when current government programmes run out.

The risk of a much lower than expected uptake also raises questions about the new transport policy white paper, which foresees the phase-out of conventionally fuelled cars from cities by 2050. “It is too early to dismiss the conventional diesel and petrol power train,” said Mr Jacoby. This goal has already been criticized by car makers