A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a report that the so-called Automobile Commission of Denmark published after 18 months of number crunching with the purpose of guiding the government to accomplish its goal of drastically cutting transportation emissions in the country.
The latest numbers on the Danes’ hunger for electric vehicles suggests that the revolution is well underway, without any change in policies.
According to the Danish Motorist Association FDM, sales of vehicles with a plug are surging more than expected, and if this trend continues, then half a million electrified vehicle (fully electric and plug-in hybrids) will surely be on the roads by 2030. Denmark has 2.7 million cars on the roads now, so we are talking about 20% of the fleet being electrified. This is still very conservative and relies on incremental growth, not exponential.
With 1,015 pure electric vehicle and 2,464 plug-in hybrids, these accounted for 19.8% of new car sales in August in Denmark. In the same month, 3,297 diesel cars were registered, corresponding to 18.7% of sales. So, for the first time, electric cars have overtaken diesel-powered ones. This has happened much sooner than even I had expected, or hoped!
“The Commission is too pessimistic in their expectations of how fast the electric car market will develop,” says Niels Buus Kristensen in comment to the national media outlet dr.dk. He is member of the Danish Climate Council and head of research at the Transport Economics Institute in Oslo.
I agree — it seems to me that the Automobile Commission has been to busy crunching numbers that are 18 months old, which in this case is much too old. Does it matter?
The Climate Council has looked at the figures in the Automobile Commission’s calculation models and has come to the conclusion that even if the taxes are not changed, the commission estimates that a mid-range electric car will cost around DKK 60,000 ($9,500) less than a petrol car by 2030. In addition, the commission expects that it will be around DKK 10,000 ($1,600) cheaper per year to own and use an electric car, and that the average range on a single charge will be 480 km (300 miles) by then. “If that’s the case, would you buy one?” Niels Buus Kristensen asks rhetorically.
The organisation of Danish energy companies Dansk Energi agrees with the Climate Council. They fear that the message from the Automobile Commission will slow down the green energy transition in the country. “As soon as consumers can drive far on a charge and charge fast, why would they want to buy a petrol car?” says director Lars Aagaard. “When we reach the tipping point at which the majority chooses electric cars, the market will suddenly go bananas. The Danes will demand electric cars, and we must prepare for that,” he says.
Anders Eldrup, who has headed the Automobile Commissions work, has himself been a happy electric car owner for the past 5 years. Nevertheless, he claims that development is not happening as fast as the Climate Council believes. Asked when he thinks an electric car will be cheaper than a fossil car, he states: “I cannot put an exact year on it, but it’s surely after 2030.”
Anders Eldrup acknowledges that there are great uncertainties in the commission’s calculations, but he does not believe that the price of electric cars will fall as fast as the Climate Council believes. He points to the fact that most battery factories today are located outside of Europe. “Europeans are forced to buy batteries in a few countries, and those countries will take advantage of that,” he says, and concludes: “So, as we were expecting battery prices to fall, we are currently seeing that prices are rising.”
I’m speechless. I’m not sure how to comment on this. To me, this seems to be a fight between people who have insight in what is actually going on in the battery industry and people who do not have a clue. The politicians who are supposed to turn policy suggestions into law will be hard pressed to do their homework to part facts from fiction, and meanwhile the market is changing faster than anyone had expected.
Tesla Battery Day anyone? Rising battery prices? Are you kidding me? To be honest, it’s a bit tiring to hear the so-called experts concluding future scenarios based on current technology, when it should be bleedingly obvious that the whole slew of technologies making up the future of transportation — batteries, software, manufacturing techniques, etc. — are evolving so fast it makes our heads spin. The internal combustion engine is doomed. Legacy auto is doomed. The whole fossil fuel economy is doomed. Deal with it.
Danes, and everyone else, have begun buying electric vehicles in big numbers. Yes, some are hybrids, but that’s just a stepping stone for people who have not yet realized that pure EVs are already much cheaper to run, so that’s all good and fine.
Now, imagine what happens when new battery technology hitting the market very soon enables $20,000 EVs with 250+ miles of range? Yes, I genuinely believe that what Tesla is about to show the world in this regard will in fact change the world of transportation. There are a lot of videos out there right now trying to predict what will happen next week, and this is one of the best and most credible ones:
Personally, I don’t care much about EV vs. ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle sale figures anymore. People suddenly want EVs and there will be winners and losers in the EV space — and yes, Tesla looks like a winner. But in the ICE space, there are only losers right now, and that’s what matters.
All photos by Jesper Berggreen. If you choose to buy a Tesla, feel free to use my referral link to get lots of free miles: https://ts.la/jesper18367