In a white paper, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) has put forward a number of short-term suggestions for promoting a consistent greening of vehicle fleets which would have a direct impact on air quality and the climate. They are easier to implement than ‘pay-per-use’ schemes, for example, and are more likely to produce positive environmental results than simply focusing on the electrification of vehicle fleets. 

Within the present tax system, the Dutch vehicle fleet is becoming greener at a slower pace than envisaged, according to TNO. Clean cars, which are still too expensive for the second-hand market, leave the country while dirtier ones are imported in their place. In addition, diesel passenger cars are being replaced by dirtier diesel vans with 50 percent more CO2 emissions per kilometer.

Download the whitepaper here

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    TNO makes these suggestions based on years of government-commissioned research into the environmental consequences of the Dutch tax system or automobiles, traffic emissions in practice, and related air quality predictions. This reveals a worrying trend that appears to be related to a one-sided policy focus on the electrification of new cars, which – as is assumed – should have affect the entire fleet on the roads.

    Disruption of the second-hand market

    The white paper ‘Schoon wagenpark vraagt om méér naast ‘stekkersubsidie’ (‘A clean vehicle fleet requires more than a ‘plug-in subsidy’) shows that, based on new information substantiated with figures, the one-sided promotion of the sale of new clean cars results in a disruption of the second-hand market.

    Read the Dutch press release about the white paper here.

    After a short period of use (often a lease), a third to half of these subsidized clean cars disappear abroad. That is because they are too expensive for Dutch second-hand buyers. They prefer to buy newer, cheaper but often less environmentally friendly used cars from other countries. 

    Older, more polluting models are also imported more often as an affordable means of transport. Finally, the advantageous tax status of diesel delivery vehicles is also detrimental to our environment (no additional tax liability, different grounds for automobile taxes, but still deductible costs, and lower road taxes).

    It is important that newly sold green vehicles remain available for the Dutch second-hand market for several generations more than they are at present. They should not immediately disappear abroad because they are too expensive for domestic second-hand sales. In addition, imports of clean vehicles should be encouraged. This will help to update the vehicle fleet and improve air quality.

    Suggestions

    So, the intended positive environmental effects as a result of automobile taxes are currently evaporating in part. To remedy this in the short term, TNO offers a number of suggestions that could be implemented swiftly and that would also have quick results in terms of air quality. The bottom line is that clean cars should remain on the Dutch market and on the road for longer. TNO points to a direct link between vehicle mass and practical emissions. Lower weight and a newer car are strongly associated with lower CO2 emissions.

    Also interesting: Significant climate gains to be made by accelerating ban on sale of cars with internal combustion engines

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