Can the Dutch lead the way on electric cars?

In the Netherlands, electric cars are being pushed hard. But are consumers responding?
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

Can the Netherlands show the world how to get electric cars to catch on like it has for cycling?

The Dutch are certainly working on it. The government is offering major tax incentives for electric car buyers, building a grid of charging stations not just in cities but along highways, and offering free parking and charging in Amsterdam. Combine that with the fact that gas costs about $8.50 a gallon and the country has a relatively limited geography (than, say, the United States) and you would expect the conditions to be ripe for an electric car boom.

The results: electric car ownership is growing, up eightfold to 7,500 last year. But if you're not impressed by that number you're not the only one. The New York Times reports:

[E]xperiments with the cars in the Netherlands and Denmark also underscore the challenges facing this new technology. Sales have been lower than politicians and automakers hoped, representing under 1 percent of new vehicles, even here. “It seems that the industry has not convinced consumers that they can do this,” Mr. Jensen said. “If they fail over the next few years, I think investors will pull out, and that will be a problem.”

Even with the Dutch buildup of electric car infrastructure it can't compete with the infrastructure for gas-powered cars which has been built up over the years. Range anxiety is present in even the most EV-friendly countries. Whether countries that want to see more electric cars on the road can build up the infrastructure to ease range anxiety before investors give up on electric cars will be the biggest challenge going forward.

Plugging In, Dutch Put Electric Cars to the Test [New York Times]

Photo: Flickr/Retinafunk

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