By on October 3, 2019

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]

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30 Comments on “Electric Viability: The Dutch Sure Do Love Tesla’s Model 3...”

  • avatar
    R Henry

    “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.”

    Wow…anti-Dutch bigotry at TTAC! Kinda like trying to tell Nixon jokes…nobody gets it.

  • avatar

    Don’t forget that the European HQ is based in the Netherlands, also giving an artificial push in registrations.

  • avatar

    All those Teslas are going to clog up the roads. But looking on the bright side, improvements in Autopilot will allow drivers to see more of the Nether lands, from the backseat.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Credit where credit is due. Europeans are buying American made cars. Tesla has succeeded where Ford and GM have done very poorly.

  • avatar


    Tiny country likes cars with limited range as long as there are big incentives

    • 0 avatar

      My best friend who is from Holland told me that country is only 60 miles wide, East to West, and 115 miles long, North to South.

      No range anxiety there, with kilometers to spare……

      • 0 avatar
        Ce he sin

        You know the Netherlands isn’t an island, right? Just because it’s a small country doesn’t mean you can’t drive long distances to and around other countries. The border isn’t even visible nowadays.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s about 144 miles at it’s widest, and about 300 miles north to south. This I know because I’ve done the trip from Amsterdam (Schiphol) to near Enschede and back several times. It takes 2 hours.

      • 0 avatar

        Israel is even smaller country. And no, you better not drive to other countries – borders are very visible. Well you can of course, mostly by mistake – but on your own peril. It is like taking wrong exit in Oakland, CA. I am sure though that Europe is slightly different. But still you can end up in the wrong neighborhood.

  • avatar

    Love the article’s ending- “it looks like they’re successful for now, but that might change!” Why such antipathy toward electric vehicles? I thought this was the “truth” about cars?

  • avatar

    Wow, a European country that actually wants an American car.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “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”

    All the Dutch incentives don’t make up for the difference in price.

    Here’s a revolting thought for TTAC: Maybe the Dutch just like the Model 3 better?

    In the US, YTD the Model 3 is the #27 best-selling vehicle, placing it ahead of 254 other vehicles – many of them cheaper. Federal incentives on it are gone, or nearly so.

  • avatar

    Tesla is now America’s best car company.

    • 0 avatar

      This is obviously some strange new usage of the word “best” that I was previously unfamiliar with.

      Take away the perks, favoritism, and carbon credit scam forcibly imposed by armed criminal gangs and see how long Tesla lasts.

  • avatar

    I’m as damn near 100% Dutch as they come. I spent 5 years living 1 hour from the Dutch border in Germany. My entire family tree on both sides is traced straight back to Friesland a good 5-6 generations now. I hate the English (ok I jest). I love gin (the Dutch invented it, look it up). I am most at peace when I’m on a boat in the wide open expanse of a large body of water. We eat pea soup and pig in the blanket for every Christmas dinner since the day I was born.

    Straight up easiest explanation: Dutch people are pragmatic and they love a “deal”. Not a deal as in the cheapest price, but a deal as in “I can pay the same amount as a VW Polo and drive a Tesla and I can get a parking space immediately and and and…” kinda deal. And on top of that they don’t do flashy. A Tesla Model 3 is classy and understated in the way a Buick in the 60’s wasn’t a Cadillac in the 60’s.

    Oh, and they’re pretty wealthy too, which helps.

    Doesn’t change the fact that the American in me says this is the stupidest thing ever for the Netherlands to be doing. And on top of that, I agree 100% that if you can’t make electric cars a go in a country that doesn’t really “need” cars, where as far as I can tell on a map about the farthest you can drive from Eemshaven on the North Sea to Vaals on the German border = 240 miles which is about spot on for most electrics these days….well then electric cars probably won’t work most other places in the world.

    I still maintain at the end of the billions of dollars spent on electrification that we are gonna see some major players not see the other side of this.

  • avatar

    “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

  • avatar

    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.

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