Give people enough money, and they’ll do damn well anything you want them to, but that doesn’t make it good policy. From the Alister Doyle at af.reuters.com:
* Worldwide, subsidies still drive electric car markets
* Dependence may complicate bid to phase out combustion engines
* On Norway’s Finnoey, a fifth of cars are electric
* Free use of tunnel can mean savings of $6,000 a year
By Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle
JUDABERG, Norway, Sept 21 (Reuters) – The Norwegian island of Finnoey has the highest density of electric cars in the world. The reason? They are exempt from the $6,000-a-year toll charges for the tunnel to the mainland.
There has been a surge in sales of fully electric cars like Teslas and Nissan Leafs since the tunnel opened in 2009 and they now account for one in five cars on Finnoey, compared with less than 1 in 100 globally.
Twenty-nine percent of all new car registrations in Norway were fully electric or plug-in hybrids last year, according to the International Energy Agency, far ahead of the Netherlands in second on 6.4 percent and Sweden in third on 3.4. China had almost 1.5 percent and the United States less than one.
State subsidies support sales of electric cars around the world, and Norway has the most electric cars per capita thanks to the most generous handouts.
It offers nationwide tax breaks for users of electric cars than can be worth tens of thousands of dollars, plus various local incentives like exemptions from road tolls and parking fees.
“Economic incentives work, especially if they are very, very, very strong as in Finnoey,” said former Norwegian central bank governor Svein Gjedrem, who grew up on the western island chain of 3,250 people which is famous for its fish farms and tomatoes.
A reliance on state handouts complicates efforts in nations like Britain and France to phase out combustion engines in favour of battery-powered vehicles, which are far costlier, have limited ranges and often have long charging times.
It means the technology will have to become significantly cheaper if those governments are to meet pledges to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 without having to hand out crippling levels of subsidies to millions of buyers.
To continue reading: ANALYSIS-Road to electric car paradise paved with handouts