Tax incentives encourage electric vehicle uptake - European Environmental Agency

Source: ICIS News


LONDON (ICIS)--The number of countries in Europe offering regulatory encouragement - such as tax incentives for electric vehicles - increased considerably until 2016, encouraging increased low-emission car uptake, according to a report published by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) on Thursday.

Yet the study said that "in order to successfully foster the uptake of electric vehicles, sufficient charging infrastructure is required".

In 2016, a specific incentive for electric charging infrastructure was found in only 12 European countries, according to an EEA table. Ten of those are EU members. The paper looked at data between 2010-2016 from 32 European countries,

All countries "implemented at least one type of tax or incentive aiming to encourage the uptake of passenger cars with lower [carbon dioxide] CO2 emissions", the report said. It found that Bulgaria, Estonia,the Czech Republic and Poland had implemented relatively few of these. Twenty-nine out of the 32 countries studied had implemented specific incentives to motivate efficient, low and zero-emission car uptake.

Higher than average EU emission levels in Germany in 2016 could be related to the low annual circulation tax and a high share of company cars in the fleet, according to the EEA. Meanwhile slower CO2 reduction rates in Poland could be connected to there being no taxes explicitly focused on CO2 emissions there.

Conversely, Norway had the highest proportion of battery electric vehicles in Europe in 2016. This was reflective of the non-EU member country's "long term policy of relevant tax exemption, covering vehicle acquisition, ownership, charging infrastructure, as well as exemptions from toll and ferry charges".

A statement from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) on Thursday warned the report "shows that there is still serious underinvestment in electric vehicle recharging infrastructure across Europe, with only one in three EU member states providing incentives". It added that only with an "EU-wide roll-out of recharging and refuelling infrastructure" would enough uptake of alternative and electric-powered vehicles, as happened in Norway.

Customers also need "confidence that fully electric vehicles will reliably meet their travel needs and help reduce anxiety linked with possible limitations in range", according to the EEA report.

The European data agency also found that "taxation and incentive programmes can differ in several aspects which may affect their effectiveness in reducing average CO2 emissions". These factors can include: the number and financial value of incentives, whether acquisition incentives are one-off or recurring, who they target and what kind of cars they favour.

Relatively little change was found in the number of countries using taxes car ownership in relation to their CO2 emission rate or a similar parameter like engine power between 2010-2016. However, for company car taxation there was a rise in the number of countries using CO2 or a related parameter, from five in 2010 to 10 in 2016.

The boundaries between CO2-based incentive tax bands and monetary value changed in many countries. In the Netherlands, "the maximum CO2 emission value for exemption of petrol cars from registration tax moved progressively downwards over the period, from 110 g/km in 2010 to 50 g/km in 2016", according to the report.

The report said 15-20% of fast-falling average CO2 emissions in Netherlands were attributed to the country's favourable electric/plug-in hybrid vehicle registration and annual circulation tax structure. It said 6% of the country's new car sales was made up of electric and plug-in hybrid cars, the highest share of EU member states. Additionally, tax reductions  on small, low-emission cars there "resulted in additional sales of some 25 000 to 30 000 cars". The study also attributed emission reductions to similar incentives in France and Ireland.

A table of incentives by category and country can be found on the EEA's website, here

"Infrastructure" refers to whether government funds for the installation of refuelling and charging facilities for low emission vehicles are present in a country. "Acquisition" refers to registration taxes, purchase subsities and bonus schemes. "Recurring" refers to road tolls, congestion or emission zone charges, and other circulation taxes or preferential parking and lane options. "Company" refers to benefit-in-kind taxation of employees using a company car privately related to CO2 emissions.