The International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT) has released a report which says electric cars are already cheaper to own than conventional cars. How do they know that? They tracked four models of the Volkswagen Golf — electric, plug-in hybrid, gasoline, and diesel — in the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Norway over four years. They found the electric version of the Golf cost less to own that the other three models, due in large part to a combination of lower taxes, lower fuel costs, and incentives.
The advantage for the e-Golf was highest in Norway — 27% — because electric cars are exempt from registration taxes in that country. In Germany, France, and the Netherlands, the savings varied between 11% to 15%, according to a report by The Guardian. After the UK cut its EV incentives recently, the e-Golf advantage fell to just 5% — but it’s still winning. The ICCT claims its research shows government incentives are key to promoting sales of electric vehicles and taking effective action against climate change and air pollution.
Sandra Wappelhorst of the ICCT said, “Most trips are within an electric vehicle’s range, and it is the battery electric vehicle that turns out to be the most cost effective over four years. But if you’re a country doctor, who might have to respond to emergency calls at odd hours in odd places, you’ll have to evaluate a battery electric car differently to a London surgeon.”
The analysis showed plug-in hybrid vehicles were often the most expensive to run over four years, in part due to the higher purchase price of vehicles that in effect have two engines and lower government incentives.
James Tate of the University of Leeds told The Guardian the UK government could do more to drive the growth of electric cars. “My view is that the UK should do much more to steer the market away from the most polluting and inefficient cars, ie SUVs/4×4 which are continuing to grow in sales. These large, heavy vehicles burden us and the climate with unnecessary CO2 and air pollutants. A taxation policy that rises with fuel consumption rates, such as in the Netherlands and Norway is overdue.” Taxation on cars in the UK does increase with emissions for company cars but not for privately owned vehicles.
Fully electric car sales accounted for 0.7% of the UK vehicle market in 2018, and plug-in hybrids accounted for 1.9% of sales.
In reference to the recent changes in UK electric car incentives, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said, “The UK government’s enthusiasm for electric cars is clear, but it must ensure its policies are clear and consistent so private and fleet buyers can make purchasing decisions that aren’t undermined by policy shifts further down the road.”
That advice applies as well to officials in the US where fossil fuel pressure groups are pushing hard to eliminate the existing federal tax credit for electric and plug-in hybrid cars. Their campaign is based on a disingenuous argument that such incentives benefit mostly wealthy people at the expense of the poor. How despicable that these people, who would gladly kill the whole planet and every living thing on it for the sake of a few doubloons, are suddenly worried about the poor for the very first time in their lives. We wonder how much they care about the poor being disproportionately hurt by air pollution.
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