The New York Times today has a story about a major tax-policy initiative underway in Denmark that government officials are hoping will provide a big boost to the use of electric cars. The story also reports on how Better Place, a company we’ve written on in the past, and Dong Energy, Denmark’s largest utility company, is working to build a charging infrastructure/battery-replacement system throughout the nation.
According to the story, Danish citizens now get to waive a 200 percent tax levied on most cars. Thus a car nominally priced at $20,000 would end up costing $60,000. A car buyer in Denmark could save $40,000 or more if they opt for an electric vehicle. An additional perk is free downtown parking in cities such as Copenhagen.
Expect to see some of this feature in background stories related to the meeting next week of world leaders in Copenhagen on the topic of climate change. Better Place signed an agreement back in May with city leaders to have a demonstration of the technology ready when the global warming conference begins.
The Times quotes Lars Barfoed, Denmark’s transportation minister, as saying, “We want to be a test and laboratory country for electric cars, hybrid cars and other new technology. And as host of the climate change conference, that’s made us feel responsible and want to show the world we can do something.”
Better Place apparently recently predicted that Denmark will have 100,000 charging locations functioning by 2010, but the Times suggests that the company is falling behind, having only 55 locations functioning now. Better Place is now saying that a 2011 deadline is more likely.
The vulnerable underbelly to these plans is resistance by automakers. So far, only Renault has agreed to build cars compatible with the Better Place system. However, big players, such as Toyota, say they have no interest in the Better Place approach.
One other interesting side note is that the Better Place/Dong Energy plan is to use wind power to support their charging system.