As regular readers of our news will know, the Danish government's decision as part of the current energy policy agreement to tax-exempt electric cars until at least 2012, has attracted a great deal of interest from automobile manufacturers worldwide. Hardly surprising either, considering that it's a 180% tax that has been lifted – no small price advantage against combustion engine competition.
The government's astute move has turned Denmark into a potential El-dorado, as electric car manufacturers have quickly grasped that in addition to the obvious financial incentive, the country's convenient size, abundance of green electricity generation (especially from wind), future-ready transport infrastructure, and population known for its climate consciousness as well as its fast adoption of new technologies, make Denmark an ideal European test bed for their electric car concepts.
Already, there are two fascinatingly contrasting approaches that are set to roll out here in the not-too-distant future, as professional journal Ingeniøren (The Engineer) reports.
One is Shai Agassi's Better Place electric car scheme, backed by Renault-Nissan and Denmark's leading integrated energy company DONG Energy. The key point to note about Better Place, which will start mass marketing in Denmark in 2011, is that you buy the car but not the battery – the latter component is leased.
Contrastingly, China's rapidly growing auto manufacturer BYD (Build Your Dreams), which has already announced that Denmark is to be the first European country where it will launch its pure electric E6 model and 3F DM hybrid – also in 2011 – will be selling the car complete with a battery which the company itself manufactures (one of the very few to do so).
Morten Rask of Århus University, who researches into electric car concepts, comments to Ingeniøren: "People are accustomed to buying cars that they can immediately drive, where all the components are integrated in the product. That's an advantage for BYD. On the other hand it requires that customers can be persuaded to pay for the battery, which is an extremely expensive component of an electric car."
Time will tell how the contrasting concepts of Better Place and BYD will be received by the purchasing public. But one thing is for sure. Denmark will be the first to provide the answers, and is set to serve as a bellwether for the potential evolution of the coming electric mass-transport market in Europe.