Denmark could see itself becoming more of a battleground than a testing ground for the electric cars of the future, writes financial daily newspaper Børsen.
After the recent announcement, reported on this website, that following a deal struck with leading Danish energy company DONG Energy, Denmark is to become the second roll-out country for Shai Agassi's 'Project Better Place' electric car scheme, Sweden's Volvo and Saab are now stepping up to the plate with electric car ambitions of their own.
Together with Swedish energy giant Vattenfall, Volvo and Saab are planning to extend the roll-out of their new generation of plug-in hybrid cars to major cities in the Nordic region, including the Danish capital Copenhagen, from 2010. That effectively puts the Swedish trio on a collision course with the DONG/Agassi electric car project.
"We believe we can succeed in converting over to electric cars a large portion of car travel in major cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen," Vattenfall deputy director Hans von Uthmann told Børsen, adding "We are ready to challenge DONG with our technology, in the same way as DONG will challenge us."
The Project Better Place scheme will use pure electric cars produced by Renault-Nissan, while the Swedish plug-in hybrids from Saab and Volvo have both an electric motor and a petrol/diesel engine. That puts DONG's project at a slight advantage since the newly agreed Danish Energy Policy effective from 2008 tax-exempts electric cars until 2012. But legislative proposals for plug-in hybrid cars will not begin to be drafted until 2009.
Meanwhile, DONG Energy seems to be taking the news of the impending arrival of a competitor in relaxed fashion.
"We welcome the initiative," says DONG Energy's Torben Holm, who is project manager for the electric car scheme. He is ready to offer the Swedish competitor the use of recharging stations that will be set up for the Project Better Place scheme, and he sees both types of electric cars as part of the future.
"It's difficult to predict how the market will move, but right now we think that the two types of cars will appeal to different consumer groups and so will be able to live side by side," says Holm.