Denmark EV Incentive: $40k and a Parking Spot

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Along with Israel, Denmark is one of the first countries to sign on to Project Better Place’s attempt to establish a viable electric car infrastructure. And as with all early adopters, Denmark is paying a pretty price for the experiment. The country is spending $100m on infrastructure, including charging points and battery-swap stations. Moreover, Better Place’s partner, public utility Dong Energy, is trying to run the new EV infrastructure entirely on wind power, which is already the source of 20 percent of Denmark’s energy. “We’re the perfect match for a windmill-based utility,” Better Place founder and CEO Shai Agassi tells the NY Times. “If you have a bunch of batteries waiting to be charged, it’s like having a lot of buckets waiting for rain.” Despite the close government involvement in the project, Danes are still wary of making a wholesale switch to EVs, prompting the government to offer $40,000 in consumer incentives for electric vehicles, as well as free parking in downtown Copenhagen. Though there’s plenty of skepticism in Denmark about the plan, that incentive is expected to make a huge difference.

After all, buying a car in Denmark isn’t the same as buying a car in the US. The NYT explains:

The country imposes a punitive tax of about 200 percent on new cars, so a vehicle that would cost $20,000 in the United States costs $60,000 here. For a quarter-century, electric cars have been exempt from that tax. But the models on the market were so limited in their capabilities that only 497 of them are registered in the entire country.

And though the incentive combined with Better Place’s Renault/Nissan EVs might make a difference, Danes are still worried about betting the farm on a single vehicle supplier. With millions set to be spent on Better Place’s battery swap stations (under BP’s scheme, you buy a car but lease a battery, a system based on the cell phone contract model), many worry that the stations won’t be able to supply batteries to competitor EVs. “I’m skeptical about the infrastructure,” says Klaus Bondam, Copenhagen’s mayor for technical and environmental administration. “It won’t work unless it’s standard on every electric vehicle produced.”

The questions point to an underlying problem with Better Place’s strategy. Though battery leasing and swap stations theoretically eliminate range anxiety (since batteries could be swapped in less time than it takes to fill a tank with gas), the BP-specific infrastructure forces competitors wanting access to the Israeli and Danish EV markets to standardize to BP’s specifications. Though standardization of a plug-in infrastructure is clearly a major goal for all EV supporters, the terms of that standardization should not be set by a for-profit, public-private enterprise. The Society for Automotive Engineers or some other cross-industry organization should take the lead in establishing international EV standards, and should do so in such a way that doesn’t favor any one manufacturer. Otherwise, Better Place’s attempt to leap ahead in establishing its own infrastructure will end up dictating the terms of engagement for everyone else. Especially when it has such generous governmental support.

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  • Pacificpom2 Pacificpom2 on Dec 02, 2009

    Not unknown for one company to make a product that everybody had to follow to gain markets. IBM pc's and Microsoft spring to mind. One company making a specific type of product, be first in the market place and saturate, so that every other competitor/pruducer had to emulate, licence or plain copy to remain in the market, or, go down a different path and be forever stuck with a small slice or at best a niche following.

  • Greg Locock Greg Locock on Dec 02, 2009

    "Though standardization of a plug-in infrastructure is clearly a major goal for all EV supporters, the terms of that standardization should not be set by a for-profit, public-private enterprise." I don't see a problem there, so long as it is an open standard. While it would be nice to wait for a governement commitee to design an alternative, do you really think it'll be a whole lot better?

  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.