Sales of plug-in hybrid cars have collapsed in the Netherlands after the government withdrew buying incentives and it’s a warning about what could happen in Britain.
The country was the European sales leader for plug-in hybrids in 2015, thanks to government tax cuts for company-car drivers, but last year those tax cuts were scaled back.
Sales in 2016 halved to below 20,000, and the Netherlands went from being far and away the most important European market for the technology to third, behind the U.K. and Norway, according to JATO Dynamics and reported by Nick Gibbs of Automotive News Europe.
The incentives were too generous. Company-car drivers paid as low as 7 percent of the car’s sticker price in tax, compared with 25 percent for an average car. That was worth 6,000 to 7,000 euros ($6,300-$7,400) a year to them, far outweighing the fuel-saving cost. Suddenly, cars such as the Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid crossover became cost-effective.
But few drivers were actually plugging them in, something the government spotted when it looked at average fuel-consumption data from the fuel cards most company-car drivers use at gas stations there.
Far from reducing carbon dioxide as the government intended, the incentives were likely making the situation worse as the hybrids were bought in bigger numbers but the charging network did not support them and they ran on fossil fuels for nearly all the time.
Electric vehicle owners are starting to have free smart chargers installed as a result of their participation in the Electric Nation project in Britain.
The latest smart chargers will future-proof their electric vehicle home charging, and they will play an important role in a research project to ensure that the UK’s local electricity networks can cope with the ever-growing numbers of electric cars.
Sales of electric vehicles in the UK are rising and there’s an increasing range of models to choose from, with larger batteries and faster charging times – all of which are helping to reduce emissions and to lower running costs for owners.
The UK electricity grid has sufficient capacity to deliver power to electric vehicles, however if clusters of EVs develop in local areas and they’re all charged at peak times, then some local electricity networks may need reinforcing.
Electric Nation is trialling a smart charging solution which could interact between domestic charge points and local electricity networks to allow the numbers of electric vehicles in the UK to increase, whilst avoiding the cost and disruption involved in upgrading local electricity infrastructure.