In another sign of the accelerating transition toward electric vehicles in the automotive sector, a group of politicians in the Netherlands recently put forward a proposal to outright ban all new gasoline and diesel powered models starting in 2025.
In addition to the ban of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, the proposal calls for substantial investments into autonomous driving technology — mostly as a means of dealing with the traffic congestion problems that certain regions of the country currently face.
The proposal was apparently put forward by the country’s labor party, the PvdA, and also, apparently, was already approved by a majority of Dutch parliament’s lower house, the Tweede Kamer.
If put into place legally, the proposal would result in the banning of anything with an ICE engine, including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). All new car sales would be required to be all-electrics (EVs) or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
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Investing in self-driving cars seems like a given, but the motion to ban the internal combustion engine once and for all has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum. Notably, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VDD) called PvdA’s motion “overambitious and unrealistic.” According to Henk Kamp, VDD’s minister of economic affairs, only about 15% of all new cars sold in the Netherlands in 2025 will be all-electric, and going beyond that point in such a short period of time will be difficult. Barbara Visser, one of VDD’s representatives in the Dutch parliament, was a little more blunt when she called the motion “the wishful thinking of a headless chicken.”
Interestingly, the motion has been criticized by PvdA members, too. Dutch newspaper De Volksrant reports that some party members complain that they weren’t told about it ahead of time and learned of its existence on the news, while others point out that banning gasoline and diesel-powered cars is a decision that risks alienating large groups of voters.
Jan Vos, PvdA’s representative in parliament, responded to the backlash by pointing out that the motion is simply a vision for an emissions-free future, and that it won’t become a reality in the immediate future. He stresses that the Dutch need to kick their addiction to fossil fuels, but few politicians in Holland expect that the motion to ban gasoline and diesel-powered cars will be passed into law.
Bold. If nothing else, such motions should at least get people thinking. With the recent unveiling of the Tesla Model 3, and the country’s fast-growing Fastned network of EV fast chargers, though, the Netherlands is actually quite well suited to a possible outright banning of new gas and diesel car sales. There are arguably not any other countries out there currently capable of making such a move and possibly succeeding. Maybe they really should give it a try?