Electric Viability: The Dutch Sure Do Love Tesla's Model 3

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Tesla’s Model 3 became the best-selling car in the Netherlands last month, edging out the Volkswagen Polo. If you’re wondering how an electric automobile that goes for the domestic equivalent of $47,300 in Europe outsold VW’s $18,650 hatchback, take a look at the United States. Ford’s F-Series is always at the top of the charts here and, while it can be had for under $30,000, most have sticker prices nearly identical to the aforementioned Model 3.

Tesla also has the advantage of the Netherlands’ eagerness to adopt EVs, which has resulted in some heavy incentivizing. Honestly, if this author could bring himself to be surrounded by the Dutch on a daily basis, he’d be tempted by the parking perks alone.

The Netherlands offers drivers of all-electric cars lower registration fees and huge subsidies for those used for taxi or delivery purposes. If you tell the government it’s to be a work vehicle, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment has a €3,000 subsidy. Keeping it in a major metropolitan area nets you another 2,000 euros.

This is important because the country is very into car-sharing and is small enough to allow EVs to make up a significant portion of those vehicles. And while the Netherlands has rolled back some of its subsidies for private ownership, numerous cities and towns still offer credits totalling anywhere between €1,000 and €5,000. Some of these hinge on buyback programs that require you hand over your old internal combustion model so it can be disposed of, while others mandate the installation of an at-home charger. A few just want proof you live in the city, though.

There are parking perks, too. Amsterdam has a waiting list for permanent parking spaces that stretches out to 10 years in some areas. But if you buy an electric, the city will bump you to the top of the list and issue an EV-only parking spot. Other cities have similar programs. For example, Rotterdam offers every battery powered automobile one year of free parking downtown.

ALD Automotive Netherlands told Bloomberg the nation’s rapid adoption of plug-in vehicles is the result of those incentives, adding that swapping to an EV saves drivers several hundred euros a month on leased models. The Norwegian Road Federation expressed similar sentiments when announcing the Tesla Model 3 as its best-selling car between July and September.

Despite amounting to just 6,123 deliveries in the first quarter and 4,438 in the second for Norway, it’s a big win for the automaker. Tack on the Netherlands’ 5,768 units from September (these aren’t big countries) and things start adding up. But one wonders how long Tesla can hold the Model 3’s place in the Euro market. The Dutch intend to further reduce some of the incentives in 2020, which could make the car less appetizing. It’s also destined to receive more direct competition as time marches on.

Tesla’s entry-level auto currently offers a standard range of 240 miles, a benchmark other manufacturers have found difficult to match. That should see it through till the end of this year, but affordable EVs are about to start flooding into the European market with the promise of ever-increasing range.

We’ll keep looking to the region to assess the viability of electric vehicles, as this particular corner of Europe has done just about everything it can to ensure their success. If EV sales falter in that country as incentives gradually dissolve, then they may not work anywhere. But it’s looking good for now.

[Image: Robin Bouwmeester/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Sceptic Sceptic on Oct 04, 2019

    "There are only two things I hate in this world: People who are intolerant of other people's cultures, and the Dutch." Michael Caine's charaecter in Austin Powers movie

  • Voyager Voyager on Oct 06, 2019

    If it weren't for the absurdly high EV tax incentives, the Model 3 would not have made it into the Top 15 of car sales, no doubt. I know, because I live in the Netherlands.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.
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