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Why does the government not drive electric cars?

February 10, 2022

The climate

A hot topic for the current government is the climate. CO2 emissions in the Netherlands must be reduced. The government does this by fining things that are bad for the environment and subsidizing the good things, such as when purchasing an electric car. Undoubtedly, every little bit helps, such as lowering the speed limit or raising excise taxes. But it still feels like a drop in the ocean. European cooperation in the field of climate seems to hang together like loose sand. Because where the Dutch have to get off gas, our German neighbors are switching to that en masse. It is of course more nuanced than that, but it is quite difficult to understand. The concise explanation: ‘a better climate starts with yourself’ and ‘if we set a good example, the rest will follow naturally’.

The right example

However, the good example does not start entirely with the ministers themselves, because of the 31 cars in the government fleet, only two are fully electric. Of the remaining 29, 20 are hybrid cars. They are only of the caliber BMW 7 Series and Audi A8 . Large cars with a limited electric range, which most of the time still use the large petrol engine. There are also five petrol-powered official cars left, as well as four Mercedes with a diesel engine.

Why not?

Choosing a company car does not happen overnight. Each ministry purchases the official cars, after consultation with the ministers themselves. Ministers and state secretaries can choose official cars from the most expensive segment that the government allows: the so-called E-category. These official cars may cost a maximum of 0.62 euros per kilometer, at 60,000 kilometers per year. As it turns out, the guidelines were last updated in 2015. This means that there is simply no need to drive electric. Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgöz and Prime Minister Mark Rutte are being driven around in armored cars. “They are not yet available ‘green’”, according to the Ministry of Defense. Which is plausible.


In practice, however, the purchasers seem to move with the times to a certain extent. Klaas Meijer, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense to “The central government follows the sustainability standard, in which it has been agreed that its vehicle fleet will have zero emissions by 2028. Efforts are also made to achieve this as much as possible in the official cars for ministers. This is explicitly laid down in the climate agreement. The fleet will be made more sustainable in the coming years. For some ministers this is not yet possible for safety reasons. Moreover, an electric car is not yet practical enough. It may happen that a minister or state secretary has to be in Limburg in the morning and in Groningen in the evening. You can’t always do that with charging.”

Minister for Climate and Energy

Rob Jetten, environment minister, travels a lot by public transport, but he doesn’t do trips in a car with a fully electric model. Spokesperson Pieter ten Bruggencate explains: “Minister Jetten certainly prefers a fully electric car, but unfortunately that is not always the most optimal choice”. Maybe he doesn’t have room for a charging station at home…