Dutch Plan: Only Zero-Emission Car Sales Allowed by 2035

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CC BY 2.0. Wikipedia/ cars charging in Berlin

Every time I write about the rapid growth in electric car sales, somebody yuks my yum by pointing out that we're starting from a ridiculously small number when compared to overall car sales.

But you've got to start somewhere.

Now the Netherlands—backed by broad cross-party support—is sending a pretty clear signal to the markets that these growth rates will continue. Alongside other measures, such as decoupling all housing stock from the natural gas grid by 2050, Cleantechnica reports that the Dutch government has presented an energy plan which mandates 100% of new car sales be zero emission by 2035 at the latest. Meanwhile, in other news, Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City are all banning diesel vehicles by 2025 too.

Skeptics will no doubt note that 2025 and 2035 are a long way away, and they are. But I'm more interested in what moves like these will do as a market signal in the interim. If I am a car company, and I see the writing on the wall for the internal combustion engine in many cities and some countries within the next few decades, where do I spend my R&D; money? If I am a car buyer, and I am thinking about resale value and depreciation, at what point do I want to buy a car that I may not be able to drive into many cities?

Of course, what type of cars we are driving in a couple of decades may be the wrong question to be asking. With London's Mayor committing a billion bucks to cycling, and with Finland's plan to make cars in cities pointless, the car may not be the most relevant unit of transportation to keep an eye on. Either way, gas-powered transportation will be in trouble.