The Netherlands Could Soon Ban The Sale Of Non-Electric Cars

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Above Photo: AP PHOTO/PETER DEJONG

In the Netherlands, gas-powered cars could soon be a thing of the past.

The lower house of the Dutch parliament passed a motion recently that would ban the sales of non-electric cars in the country by 2025. The motion still needs to pass the Senate to become binding, but if it does, it would mean that the only non-electric cars allowed in the Netherlands would be those already on the road today: anyone in the country looking to buy a new car would have to buy electric.

Such a law would, naturally, lead to a big increase in electric car ownership in the Netherlands. Already, the Netherlands is doing pretty well on EV purchasing: last year, Dutch residents bought more than 43,000 new electric cars, and EVs currently make up nearly 10 percent of the country’s market. The Netherlands ranks second in the world for market share of electric vehicles — behind Norway, where over 22 percent of the market is made up of electric cars. In the United States, for comparison, EVs make up 0.66 percent of the market.

The Netherlands’ electric car market so far has, however, been dominated by hybrids, which wouldn’t be allowed under the ban. The top electric vehicle has consistently been the hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander P-HEV — sales of that crossover SUV made up 27.5 percent of the Dutch electric vehicle market between 2009 and 2015. The top all-electric car in the Netherlands is the Tesla Model S, which made up 5.1 percent of the market in the same time period.

Not everyone in the Dutch parliament is excited for the prospect of a non-electric car ban, though. The motion was introduced by the Dutch Labour Party, and an opposing party — the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy — has called it “overambitious and unrealistic.” So it’s not yet clear whether or not the motion will be passed by the country’s Senate.

The Netherlands has been a leader in innovative transportation before, though. The country opened the world’s first solar road in 2014, a 230-foot stretch of bike path that’s embedded with solar cells. The road, so far, has performed well, generating more than 3,000 kilowatt-hours of energy in its first six months of operation — enough to power a small, Dutch household for one year. That exceeded the developers’ expectations for the road. The Netherlands also has a huge biking culture: nearly a third of Dutch residents say that biking is their main mode of transportation, and as of 2013, there were more bikes than residents in the Netherlands. The country also has plans to ramp up its renewable energy generation: it announced a goal in 2014 of getting 14 percent of its power from renewables by 2020 and 16 percent by 2023.

Though it remains to be seen whether the Netherlands adopts the non-electric car ban, the motion’s passage through the lower house is timely. Tesla unveiled its Model 3 late last month — the all-electric car starts at $35,000 (before any tax incentives) making it the most affordable vehicle Tesla, which has so far catered to the luxury car-buying crowd, has introduced. So far, the demand has far surpassed expectations, surprising even Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Close to 400,000 people have sent in $1,000 deposits on the cars, which will start being produced in 2017. So even if the Netherlands doesn’t pass the non-electric car ban, the world will soon have at least a few hundred thousand more electric cars on its roads in the next few years.