Legal framework needed to drive electric vehicle growth in Belgium

February 03, 2017

Belgian motor trader and repair industry association Traxio is calling on the Belgian government to create a legal framework to boost adoption of electric cars. Such a framework would help to reduce uncertainty in a number of areas, including improving residual values and total cost of ownership, and helping to remove obstacles to greater adoption such as a lack of sufficient charging infrastructure.

To achieve this, Traxio has launched the PEB Project alongside fleet and mobility manager federation BFFMM and consultancy company The New Drive.  

The project aims to accelerate projected growth of electric company cars by 3% per year.  

Over the next 18 months, the PEB Platform will chart the financial and other barriers hindering greater electrification, and create a road map for key managers in both the public and private sectors. The project has recently been approved and subsidised by the government of Flanders in northern Belgium, and includes pioneering electrification companies.  

Belgian government party CD&V wants all leased company cars in the country, including the entire government fleet, to be completely electric by 2025. However, Renta, the association of leasing companies in Belgium, is sceptical about this proposal.  

Belgium has recently launched legislation to encourage companies to offer their staff a mobility budget valid across all forms of transport in place of a company car. This is an attempt to reverse the trend towards more company cars in the country, which is already very congested. But CD&V wants to go further, and use its dominance to force a move towards electrification. At present, only 0.3% of cars on the road in Belgium are electric, although the pace of electrification is rising fast by European standards.  

However, Renta points out that lease vehicles only make up half of all company vehicles and 7-8% of the overall Belgian fleet, so is unlikely to instigate societal change. In fact, Renta suggests that forcing electrification could have the opposite effect of pushing more people back into private vehicles, which are on average more polluting than leased company cars.  

CD&V has outlined 10 proposals to increase the electric car share, including more charging points, an app to map those points and focusing EV subsidies on entry-level models to make EVs accessible to a wider cross section of the population.  

Meanwhile, Belgium has recorded its best car sales for the month of January since 2011, with almost 52,000 new cars registered, an increase of 16.6% year on year. Premium brand BMW saw the highest sales, ahead of Volkswagen by a handful of units, each selling around 4500 cars. Leader from last year Renault was in third place in January, with 3800 units, level with Opel and Peugeot.  

Also, car sharing in Belgium has doubled in a single year, with 28,000 users in January 2017. This has been accounted for by a mentality shift in the public, government and manufacturers, The number of car sharing platforms, such as market leader Cambio, is also growing to meet this demand.

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