The stereotypical environmentalist comes from the middle class, and is happy to spend a few extra dollars on organic vegetables. He or she spends a lot of money on better quality clothes and disdains fast fashion from behind his or her laptop, all the while sipping an ethically sourced cappuccino – made with oat milk, of course…
Far from its beatnik-hippie roots, modern environmentalism seems to be seen as the domain of a wealthy individual, judging fairly those who choose products that are not friendly to the climate (the fact that goods shipped within the limits of the planet are somehow more expensive than their disposable counterparts is another discussion).
And electric cars, with their hefty price tag, do little to break the perception that going green is for the rich.
For many consumers, fully electric cars are an environmentally friendly status symbol. Take a stroll through the wealthier suburbs of Brussels, for example, and electric cars abound. They are hardly visible in deprived areas.
There are excellent reasons for choosing an electric car, such as lower running costs and a significantly lower environmental impact. But the asking price means weighing the pros and cons of EV ownership remains a matter for the wealthy.
EURACTIV’s reporting across Europe shows that electric vehicles are not yet a realistic option for many in Eastern and Southern Europe.
A poorly developed used market for electric vehicles, confusion over subscription plans for charging services and concerns about battery degradation (not to mention their autonomy) continue to hinder the adoption of electric vehicles, in addition to frequently mentioned problems such as high initial costs and a lack to charging infrastructure.
A EURACTIV study shows that national incentives generally don’t cut the cost of electric vehicles enough to be affordable for most consumers – some even see the discounts as a gift to those who could probably already afford the full asking price anyway .
Companies account for a large share of electric vehicles and benefit from financial incentives to abandon polluting vehicles.
Armed with lawyers and accountants paid to understand tax law, companies are well placed to take advantage of the incentives to go electric. For individuals with fewer resources, this is a more difficult proposition.
Of course, the market is changing rapidly, and this is likely to be temporary. The European Commission predicts that the price of electric vehicles will fall in the coming years and will fall below the current price of vehicles with a combustion engine as early as 2027.
But for now, the electric car revolution is one that many Europeans miss.
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