The Netherlands is already a clear leader in the shift to electric vehicles, but it has decided it wasn’t doing enough and has just stepped up its game.
In the first 4 months of 2020, plug-in vehicles accounted for 12% of auto sales in the Netherlands. In 2019 as a whole, they accounted for 15% of auto sales (there was a rush at the end of the year due to changing incentives). Many of those sales came from business/fleet purchases because of company car culture and tax benefits there as well as specific EV incentives focused on that portion of the market. Now, private buyers are getting extra encouragement to go electric, with €4,000 offered to people who buy or lease a new EV and €2,000 offered to people who get a used EV.
Perhaps the most uplifting thing about these new incentives is that they run until at least 2025. That avoids the boom–bust cycle of previous incentives (though, I will miss the boom portion of that, and think the boom–bust approach does help in some ways to accelerate adoption), gives people time to go electric as it works for them (perhaps they need to save some money or are waiting on the perfect car), and allows time for word to get around about the incentive.
Buyers can start submitting applications for the financial rebates starting on July 1, 2020. The applications can be for cars bought from today, June 4, onward.
State Secretary Van Veldhoven (Infrastructure and Water Management): “It is important that clean driving is accessible to people. With this subsidy I want to give them a helping hand, so that they can choose an electric car. New or second-hand. The more people who drive electric vehicles instead of fossils, the cleaner our air and the less greenhouse gas emissions.”
One other thing that is particularly exciting about this new policy is that it supports people buying used electric cars. I’m not a big fan of incentives exclusively for new car purchases because only a certain rich portion of society is able to buy new cars. It’s not right, in my humble opinion, to give rich people rewards from the government that people with less wealth don’t genuinely have access to. I understand the idea that more new EVs on the market lead to more used EVs on the market, which benefits everyone. However, simply making the decision to give people financial incentives for buying used EVs as well is critical for a good policy approach.
On that topic, the Dutch government writes, “In the climate agreement, the cabinet has agreed that an electric car must be accessible to many more people. Nowadays it is mainly many business drivers who choose electric. With this scheme, intended for private individuals who drive a new or used middle-class passenger car, clean, electric driving is becoming increasingly attractive for a wide group.”
More information about the new subsidies is on the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland) website.
I think one final note on citizen involvement in this subsidy scheme is warranted. The government notes, “State Secretary Van Veldhoven announced the draft scheme on 5 March. 380 responses were received to the draft scheme from citizens, companies, organizations and government advisory bodies. People who wanted to give a response were specifically asked for their opinion about the amount of the subsidy. Many people found it logical, so they remain so. Based on the responses, an interim evaluation has been scheduled to see how the scheme works in practice after the first year.”
It sounds like this was an appropriately designed policy scheme that had ample involvement from the public. Also worth highlighting, in my opinion, is that involved citizens can have an impact on their society. With just 380 responses, anyone reviewing the feedback should have been able to take good suggestions seriously and potentially have them added to the legislation, or used to shape the legislation. I’ve moderated many comment threads with that number of responses. Good ideas have the opportunity to be seen and transformed into action. Of course, I have no proof of that happening with any of the 380 responses the government received, but I’m an optimist — or, I think, a practical optimist.
Photos by CleanTechnica, the latter being a Tesla hearse in Rotterdam, Netherlands.