Skip to comments.‘Green’ cars still a giant waste of money
Posted on 05/16/2014 12:37:47 PM PDT by rickmichaels
The only thing environmentalists revel in more than predicting a fiery doom for our planet is gloating over the successful replacement of the infernal combustion engine with good, clean electricity. So, it is, then, that theres been much trumpeting of the news from Norway and, more recently, the Netherlands, where plug-in vehicles have seemingly achieved the enviroweenies holy grail: mainstream acceptance.
The numbers are startling. While North Americans remain devoted to their internal combustion dinosaurs drinking, well, dinosaur juice Toyota sold barely 200 plug-in versions of its Prius hybrid last year in Canada and Nissan only 470 Leafs both the Netherlands and Norway boast that plug-in vehicles represent more than 5% of their total car market.
Even those impressive numbers dont reflect the 42-point, above-the-fold headlines that EV sales were generating in Holland last year. In December, PHEVs accounted for an incredible 23.8% of Dutch new-car registrations. Yes, almost one in four cars sold in Holland in December was some form of plug-in electric vehicle, either the plug-in hybrid version of Toyotas Prius, a battery-powered electric vehicle like the Nissan Leaf or an extended-range EV such as Opels Ampera (Chevrolets Volt in a slinkier dress). Indeed, four out of the top five selling passenger cars in the Netherlands plugged into the electrical grid. Surely, it is the green car revolution we have all been told is imminent.
Or is it?
Whats driving or, more accurately now that updated figures are available, was driving the Dutch EV boom was incentives. A recent study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) revealed that Holland, along with Norway, is throwing money around like Justin Bieber at a Miami strip club. Taxes and registration fees are waived, electricity is subsidized as are the stations, and parking fees, seemingly an issue in overcrowded Europe, are often waived.
The totality of the incentives is staggering. According to the ICCT, Norwegian subsidies are worth up to 11,500 euros, equivalent to 55% of the cost of a new car. Hollands numbers are even more generous: Depending on the exact propulsion system and the carbon emissions the government deems it may save (the Netherlands subsidizes plug-in hybrids more favourably than EVs, while Norway promotes pure, battery-powered electric vehicles), going electric in Holland could save you as much as 75% of the purchase price of a Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid.
Also lost in all the hype is that the Dutch subsidies greatly favour corporations and private business. Private purchasers are, according to Peter Monk and Zifei Yang, authors of the ICCTs Driving Electrification white paper, eligible for much less (1,800 euros for a privately bought Renault Zoe versus 6,100 euros for a company car, and 20,900 euros for a privately owned plug-in Volvo V60 versus 38,300 euros out of a purchase price of 51,571 euros for the company-leased alternative). Small wonder that, depending on the exact nature of your vehicle, up to three quarters of Dutch plug-in sales are to corporations and private businesses. Yes, Hollands green car revolution is really just a corporate tax dodge.
And the Dutch really have been following the money. As of Jan. 1, the government has reduced its corporate welfare program, and sales of anything that requires an electrical umbilical cord have plummeted. EV and PHEV sales in December were 9,309; in January they were 404. Sales of best-selling models were particularly hard hit; Mitsubishis hybrid Outlander dropped to 83 in January compared with 4,988 just the month before. This drop was made all the more calamitous for Mitsus electrification prospects since, of the 8,197 Outlander PHEVs sold in Europe last year, 8,009 were to Holland. Other marques saw equally precipitous losses; BMWs i3 from 225 to 15 units, Teslas Model S from 578 to seven and Nissans Leaf from well, you get the idea.
But, youre thinking, at least they got some of those horrible fuel-sucking pigs off the road with a commensurate reduction in tailpipe emissions and fuel consumption.
Not so fast. According to autobloggreen.com, Fleet owners in the Netherlands are finding out that you can overshoot the mark by 80% in fuel consumption with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Arval, a leading leasing company, told Dutch Nos television that the 60 corporately driven Opel Ampera, Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Plug-in Prius vehicles it surveyed were consuming 80% more fuel than their government rating (2.2 L/100 km for the Prius; 1.6 L/100 km for the Ampera/Volt) the worst case, an extended-range Opel, consuming as much as 7.8 L/100 km.
It seems that while the corporations like the write-offs the tax exemptions bring, the people actually diving these plug-in write-offs arent bothering to, well, plug them in, instead often driving them as if they were gasoline powered only (where the Ampera/Volt is particularly inefficient). Indeed, Arval director Dick Bakker told the broadcaster, Most people dont use the car properly. If someone with an Ampera or Prius plug-in hybrid is using the same amount of petrol as you in your old (Renault) Clio (subcompact), then we have made few advances over the past few years.
So heres another take on Hollands green car revolution. The Dutch government offered massive tax incentives to promote green cars. Corporations welcomed the huge write-offs. The resultant emissions reduction in no way warranted the vast amounts of public monies spent. Its funny how we havent seen that headline.
Why can’t we be more like Europe. Land of welfare, free health care, 45% income tax, 19% VAT, tax, and have another country pick up the tab for national defense? They have trains!!!
There was a program on solar panels. Said the same thing about the panels. And also that they will always have to be subsidized.
“Why cant we be more like Europe.”
I used to hear that from my Israeli friends all the time. Their ignorance made me slightly nauseous. They’d extol the virtues of their “free” medical system. Then, in the next breath they’d say, “Well, if you want good service, you slip a few bucks under the table.” The worst thing is, you can’t argue with them. It’s as if they figuratively poke their fingers in their ears and scream, “La la la la la!”
Well, it only takes 15 minutes to drive from one end of Holland to the other, right?
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Many Europeans believe in the old adage: “You can pay now or you can pay later,” however, the vast majority of them seem only to pay attention to the latter half of that statement.
I have had several green cars.
A green Oldsmobile Cutlass.
A green Chevy Malibu.
A green Chrysler Cricket.
A green Ford F-100.
A green Ford Aspire.............
seriously, a car named the Cricket?
Yes, it was called the Hillman Avenger in the UK where it was made, hence the name, Cricket. It was a great little car, had a 1250 CC engine and a side draft carburetor.................
I would love to have either of those now.......................
You must be a youngster.
The Plymouth Cricket was sold in the early 70s.
It was from Britain where it was the Hilman Avenger.
WSJ had a story this week that the high sulfur coal from here in Indiana (that the EPA says can’t be used in the US) is barged down the Mississippi, then freightered across the Atlantic, and is burned for power in Germany - and it’s still cheaper than their domestic coal.
I had it for several years and then sold it privately. A few years later I spotted it thru the fence at a local junk yard. It had been wrecked. It’s kinda sad to see and old friend like that......................
I was born in the early 70’s
My sister lives in the Netherlands and she bikes or takes city transit everywhere — she has no car. So it’s not surprising in a small, urban setting where distances aren’t so great that you can’t walk/bike that an electric car makes sense. In the USA & Canada it’s a far different story. Commute distances are just too far and re-charging while at work is not a real option.