How the Netherlands turned its country into an electric car kingdom – Economic Policy

The Netherlands is several years ahead of Belgium in terms of electric cars, thanks to a coordinated policy between the public and private sectors. There are some interesting lessons to be learned from this.

To know what Belgium will be like when electric cars multiply, just cross the Dutch border. Our northern neighbors have gone out of their way to encourage this type of vehicle with bonuses, terminals and regulations. The electric fleet there is around 300,000 cars versus 74,135 here, plus 170,000 rechargeable hybrids. At dealerships, one in five new cars purchased is now 100% electric, compared to less than one in 10 in Belgium. “The Netherlands is at least two years ahead,” said Vincent Hancart, CEO of AutoScout24, the first used car website in Belgium.

To know what Belgium will be like when electric cars multiply, just cross the Dutch border. Our northern neighbors have gone out of their way to encourage this type of vehicle with bonuses, terminals and regulations. The electric fleet there is around 300,000 cars versus 74,135 here, plus 170,000 rechargeable hybrids. At dealerships, one in five new cars purchased is now 100% electric, compared to less than one in 10 in Belgium. “The Netherlands is at least two years ahead,” said Vincent Hancart, CEO of AutoScout24, the first used car website in Belgium. The objective set by the European Commission of only authorizing the sale of zero-emission cars from 2035 is considered by our neighbors to be too timid. The government in The Hague decided several years ago to ban the sale of new fuel-powered cars from 2030. This is the result of a coordinated proactive policy. National and local public authorities, universities, energy companies, grid operators, environmental NGOs and the ANWB (the Dutch Touring Club) came together in 2010, creating a platform called Formula E-Team to develop a series of measures to encourage electrification. . The situation contrasts with Belgium, where initiatives are taken separately and in great cacophony by the federal government and the Regions, where Flanders multiplies terminals while Wallonia takes time, and where traffic taxation is different according to the entities. All to the great regret of federations such as Febiac (car importers) or the Touring Club, which are concerned about these disparities that make it difficult to adopt this type of vehicle and the lack of terminals. Just go to Holland with an electric car to measure the distance that separates us from our neighbors. In addition to Moerdijk, there is no need to juggle an app to locate charging points: terminals have been installed in every city. And on the highways, there are quick charges at short intervals. In fact, almost a third of the European Union’s terminals are located in the Netherlands. There were currently 105,808 at the end of August, 10 times more than in Belgium, which is not the least gifted country in the EU. It comes as a shock to the Dutch who go on holiday south by electric car and inevitably cross Belgium to France. “The most difficult areas for fast charging are southern Belgium and northern France,” testifies Marco van Eenennaam, the electric car gentleman for the ANWB, the Dutch Touring Club. He rides in an MG ZS EV, a Chinese car that has a range of 265 km. “I took a model with a ‘small’ battery, because it is more than enough for the usual needs and costs 5,000 euros less than the long-range one (400 km, editor’s note). It only gives me trouble 10 times a year. I have to use fast chargers on long trips.” That the density of terminals is such in the Netherlands that it is not necessary to buy a car with high autonomy, this is the result of the work carried out by the Formula E-Team task force, materialized by a very informative website (www.nederlandelektrisch.nl) powered by by partners, including the ANWB. “The transition is so complex that it was useful to create a platform to build a program over 20 to 30 years,” continues Marco van Eenennaam. The focus was on creating charging networks with standardized, interoperable outlets via a single card. This approach led to the creation of many start-ups that are now global players.” This is the case, for example, of Fastned, a company that designs and operates fast charging stations, very present in the Netherlands, and which is also developing in Belgium, France and Germany. Same thing for EV Box, manufacturer of charging stations, or Allego. The Dutch government estimates that the sector will represent 13,500 jobs in 2025. In addition to the terminals, the government has also developed incentives. a purchase bonus of 3,350 euros for a new electric car, 2,000 euros for a used one. Businesses or non-traders can receive up to 5,000 euros per copy. Until 2024, there is no registration tax (BPM) or road tax. And the beneficiaries of a company car are taxed less on the benefit in kind until 2026. Charging on the street is also usually cheaper than in Belgium. In The Hague, kWh is distributed at 33 cents against 51.6 cents in B russels (ChargeBrussels), as we could see going to a meeting in the political capital of the Netherlands. The terminals are much more numerous there than in the Belgian capital, which, however, is undergoing a good evolution at this point. One disadvantage, however: if in Brussels, as soon as the vehicle is loaded at a public terminal, it is not necessary to provide a parking meter or remove the disk or resident card where it is mandatory, The Hague, on the other hand, this exception does not exist. But in Belgium, no bonuses are given for the purchase of an electric car. And the incentives are aimed first at company cars, which will have to be zero emissions by 2026 and are already 100% deductible (vs 67.5% on average for a fuel car), with zero road taxes in Flanders and minimums in Brussels and Wallonia. All this makes the electric car, in our country, a topic that mainly concerns companies, with individuals representing only 10% of purchases. In the Netherlands, will these multiple incentives help reach the 2030 target where 100% of new cars will be zero-emissions, mainly electric? “It’s an ambitious goal, recognizes Marco van Eenennaam. If we do the math, the total cost of use (total cost of ownership) was, until this summer, equal to or less than that of a car. fuel, in all segments. high energy prices are driving up this cost, so government support will be critical in the coming years in order to reach the 2030 target.” The ANWB public affairs adviser is alluding here to the decreasing nature of aid or incentives. “On average, an electric vehicle remains 10,000 euros more expensive than an equivalent fuel model, 15,000 euros for small or medium models.” Also, bonuses are under a limited budget. “This year, for new cars, that budget was consumed in four months. So we’ll have to wait until 2023 to benefit from it again.” The man sees another serious obstacle to a complete transition of the park. “Most people buy used vehicles. But the models available are often older company cars, larger than those generally sought after. Tesla-style cars sell for €50,000 after 200,000 km, far from the €20,000 model the average buyer looks for. ”, analyzes Marco van Eenennaam. The most common car in the Dutch fleet is a Tesla Model 3, sold new for 51,990 euros. But to succeed in the transition, we will need more mid-range models in the second-hand market.” A similar problem in Belgium. The current novelty fueling the occasion tomorrow, the nearly 300,000 electric copies already registered will be enough to supply the market within four or five years? “From our point of view, it’s too low, estimates Marco van Eenennaam. The total fleet is 9 million vehicles.”The second-hand price is also an issue. But not for the seller…” The residual value is high, sometimes higher than for a fuel model, he recalls. Admittedly, 10 years ago it was zero after five years. But the technology has turned out to be very reliable and battery degradation less than we thought, even though it remains difficult to verify. This is also a concern, the buyer is not able to check the quality of a used car battery. We are in discussions with the government to establish a standardized battery check, guaranteed by a national institute. This is being discussed at European level.” Meanwhile, the ANWB has just launched its own service in this area, Accucheck, which costs 99 euros. As we said, the Dutch are therefore quite in favor of the electric car, despite some reluctance (read the box “What do the Dutch think?” below), the high price of vehicles, even subsidized, and uncertainties about the cost of refills. But the personal situation of users also influences opinions. the electric car was especially ideal in the city. But we observe that it is those who have a parking space and can recharge at home with solar panels that get the most benefit from it. More than 11% of those who fall into this category have an electric car, while the average is 2%”, observes Marco van Eenennaam. For them, driving electric is really interesting, “because charging is free and there are almost no maintenance costs. , as well as some wear and tear.” We were able to verify this observation by chance visiting friends in Holland at Roodeschool, in the northernmost province of Groningen. Rogier lives there with his wife, runs a small business selling Internet tea and drives a Renault Zoe ZE40 with a range of 300 km, which is more than enough to drive around the Netherlands. In addition, solar panels recharge the vehicle during the day. The Zoe is its second electric car. “Six years ago we had a Nissan Leaf and we went to France”, recalls Rogier. An annoyance, because the country was then very poorly equipped. “We had recharged in the parking lots of the stores, from Ikea to Ikea”. discourage or.

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