Electric car apologist websites were atwitter this week when it was misreported that Germany would mandate the sale of 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030. A Germany official, Deputy Economy Minister Rainer Baake, said “Fact is there’s been no reduction at all in CO2 emissions by transport since 1990,” at a Tagesspiegel newspaper climate forum in Berlin. “We don’t have any answers to cut truck emissions right now but we do have answers for cars.” Germany has pledged to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050 and it is discussing banning electric gas-powered vehicles and mandating all electric cars by 2030 to meet that goal. It takes about 20 years to turn over the vehicle fleet[i] Other countries such as India, the Netherlands, and Norway also may be considering more aggressive electric car policies to try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.[ii]
Electric Vehicle Mandates May Be Considered
Last December, Germany joined the International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance, whose mission is to make passenger vehicles carbon dioxide emission-free by 2050. Germany’s Environment Ministry stated that the country’s transport industry is lagging behind in its plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions with current carbon dioxide emissions levels virtually unchanged from the 1990s. In order to conform, Germany announced a new program to accelerate the adoption of electric cars by providing a discount of €4,000 for electric vehicles with a starting price of less than €60,000 and 3,000 Euros for hybrids beginning mid-May 2016 for a total of 400,000 vehicles. The promotion will end in 2020.[iii]
While the new incentives program will help increase sales in the short term, Germany wants to encourage automakers to expand their zero-emission offerings. VW is planning to build a multi-billion Euro battery factory[iv] and Daimler, another German automaker, recently announced its electric mobility plan to introduce new electric powertrains across all its brands. Daimler plans to invest about €8 billion over the next two years, launching four new all-electric cars it greenlighted for production last year under the Mercedes-Benz brand, unveiling the first of the four vehicles at the Paris Motor Show later this year.[v]
Germany has a ways to go. There are about 150,000 hybrids and 25,000 all-electric vehicles in Germany’s fleet of around 45 million vehicles—under 0.3 percent. If Germany would mandate all new registrations are electrics, it would take an additional 20 years to replace its entire car fleet.
The Indian government is working on a scheme to provide electric cars with zero down payments and then pay the government back instead of paying for petroleum fuel. Some believe this could make India a 100-percent electric vehicle nation by 2030.[vi] The lower house of the Dutch parliament voted to only allow zero carbon dioxide emission vehicles sold on the Dutch market after 2025[vii] and the Norwegian government is discussing the possibility of banning gas-powered car sales, only allowing electric vehicle sales by 2025.[viii]
Some elected officials are discussing plans to force electric vehicles to be bought instead of gas-powered vehicles in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Electric cars are old technology that has gained more traction in recent years with massive subsidies. It will be interesting to watch the vehicle market evolve and whether electric cars gain much of a market share. Electric cars seem inevitable to some, but such predictions should be taken with a grain of salt given the performance of past predictions. The following chart from PJ Morgan shows a projection of electric vehicle (EV) and plug in electric vehicle (PHEV) adoption versus reality.
 The Zero Emission Alliance includes the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway in Europe; California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont in the United States; and Québec in Canada.
[i] Bloomberg, Germany Needs Emissions-Free Car Fleet by 2030, Official Says, June 13, 2016, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-13/germany-needs-emissions-free-car-fleet-by-2030-official-says
[ii] Electrek, All new cars mandated to be electric in Germany by 2030 [Updated], June 14, 2016, http://electrek.co/2016/06/14/all-new-cars-mandated-electric-germany-2030/amp/
[iv] Electrek, VW is reportedly about to reveal plans for its own battery ‘gigafactory’, May 26, 2016, http://electrek.co/2016/05/26/vw-battery-gigafactory-electric-vehicles/
[v] Electrek, Daimler lays out its electric mobility plan: all electric, plug-ins, F-cells, and more, June 14, 2016, http://electrek.co/2016/06/14/daimler-electric-mobility-plan/
[viii] Electrek, Norway reportedly agrees on banning new sales of gas-powered cars by 2025, June 3, 2016, http://electrek.co/2016/06/03/norway-gasoline-powered-car-ban-2025/