Strong EV Sales Were Hothouse Flower

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Even in the "greener" countries of Europe -- where they are probably less impractical than they are in the U.S. -- electric car sales need to be propped up by the government. (Actually, as you will see, "hobbled less than for other cars" might be a better description than "propped up.") A story, mis-titled "Denmark Is Killing Tesla," reveals that sales figures were helped by the fact that a tax levied against internal combustion cars wasn't being applied to electric ones:

Denmark, a global leader in wind power whose own attempt at an electric car in the early 1980s famously flopped, used to be enthralled with them. Its bicycle-loving people bought 5,298 of them in 2015, more than double the amount sold that year in Italy, which has a population more than 10 times the size of Denmark's.

However, it turns out that those phenomenal sales figures had as much to do with convenience as with environmental concerns: electric car dealers were for a long time spared the jaw-dropping import tax of 180 percent that Denmark applies on vehicles fueled by a traditional combustion engine.
A graph within the article illustrates something like a 90% drop in sales after the start of a phase-out of a break on that 180 percent tax.

Basically admitting its role in trashing that favored sector of the economy, the government has decided to delay the phase-out. (General prosperity doesn't seem to be a concern there since, as far as I know, nobody is floating the idea of abolishing the 180 percent (!) import tax on all cars.)

The article ends quite ironically, with Laerke Flader, head of the Danish Electric Car Alliance, saying that his industry -- which owes its very existence to government meddling in the economy -- "doesn't want to invest in a market that may not be there next year. They'd rather invest where conditions are better and predictable long-term."

-- CAV

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