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Swedes slow to cash in on electric car subsidy

Swedes slow to cash in on electric car subsidy

Published: 27 Jul 2012 15:06 GMT+02:00
Updated: 27 Jul 2012 15:06 GMT+02:00

The Swedish government's electric car subsidy has done little to stimulate sales of the environmentally-friendly vehicles, new figures published by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily show.

After six months only 96 premiums have been paid out, equating to a mere 4 million kronor ($584,000) of the 200 million kronor earmarked by the government for the project, according to new figures from the Swedish Transport Authority (Transportstyrelsen).

The government first mooted the initiative in 2010 with the ambition that 5,000 low-emission cars would be sold during the parliamentary term (which ends in 2014).

Swedish car industry lobby group Gröna Bilister argued that the figures illustrate that the 40,000 kronor ($5,840) premium is too small to make a difference.

"If you look at one of the more popular electric cars they cost around 350,000 kronor, in comparison to say a VW Golf which costs around 200,000. The premium is too small to change behaviour," said Mattias Goldman at Gröna Bilister to The Local.

He argued furthermore that while there is an underlying consumer demand for electric cars, there is a "ketchup effect" when it comes to new technology and that point has not yet been reached.

The organisation would like to see the Swedish government to learn from its European neighbours on the issue and use the vehicle tax system to reward eco-friendly consumers.

"We would need a system as in France where the best cars get the highest premiums and the worst cars the highest penalties," he said.

Goldman also argued that a key issue to be addressed is the expansion of rapid battery charging facilities in Sweden, pointing out that there are currently only ten.

“In Norway the government helps to co-finance these. Experience from the biogas market in Sweden shows that this type of system can work,” he said.

The Swedish government was not overly concerned with the paltry payback after six months of the new premium system, with Mattias Johansson at the department of the environment arguing that it was too early to draw any conclusions.

“This year we have only made available 500 premiums and the thinking is that sales should increase gradually,” he told Dagens Nyheter.

Johansson added that it is possible that an evaluation of the system will be conducted, “but only after a year”.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

Follow Peter on Twitter here.

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Your comments about this article

16:46 July 27, 2012 by Hisingen
With the car prices as they are, and battery life questionable, can you blame anyone for being 'cautious'. Hardly. And the funny thing is - we are supposed to be saving electricity on the one hand, and using it in a car on the other. Nuts.
16:52 July 27, 2012 by Twiceshy
Hisingen it's better to use electricity than liquid oil-based fuels, as electricity can be produced in a more ecological and sustainable way.

I totally agree that prices are still too high, it will take time for these cars to be priced competitively and for enough charging stations to be available. But the high fuel prices will help if they increase even more ...
17:12 July 27, 2012 by CarlBlack
@Twiceshy: I wonder if there is available some independent study (calculation) of the total costs and emissions of different fuels - including the emissions created in power plants to produce the electricity, the emissions and pollution created when the car and its battery is manufactured... Especially interesting would be the comparison to E85, which is already sustainable from at least 85%. Showing real numbers would be much more convincing than saying "We all know what is better".
23:58 July 27, 2012 by Sebastian_R
I would love to use an electric car. I don't need a car regularly so I'm looking into MoveAbout etc.

But seriously until cars like the Tesla Model S are available, I don't think much will happen. I like the Think!s but they are only good in places where my bike is doing its job just fine.

So please please please create some more charging stations and have some regular cars available
02:56 July 28, 2012 by Eric1
Electric cars aren't environmental friendly despite what we are lead to believe. They are politically correct but nothing more.
12:39 July 28, 2012 by Sebastian_R
@Eric1 - who cares if they are environmentally friendly? They allow us energy independence from oil that will (sooner or later) run out. Also, they don't stink, they have (if you think about the Tesla Roadster) unbelievable torque and are silent. That's why I want one.
14:06 July 28, 2012 by Mb 65
16:46 July 27, 2012 by Hisingen agree wit you 100% Car prices in Sweden are extortionate. there isn't enough competition
18:51 July 28, 2012 by hjoian
Like most "green" propulsion systems, i know mostly those used in the marine sector, price at present is high to pay back R+D costs. It will take time for the prices to fall,it doesnt help that prices are kept artificially high just because the "green" issue will play on some peoples conscience. There is a huge way to go as far as rechage points go, but i dont see an issue why every petrol station is not given a subsidy to install power points, that would make a huge difference,and low cost.
10:11 July 30, 2012 by Twiceshy
@CarlBlack: There are plenty of studies about emissions of power plants, of course. In Sweden most electricity is generated from hydro and nuclear power, both of which generate little CO2 emissions.
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