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Is Holland Europe’s Test Case For Electric Cars?

Plug-in cars are catching on in the Netherlands, and it isn’t hard to see why.

It’s a relatively small country, with high gas prices, heavy taxes on gas-guzzlers, and particularly flat land–no range-sapping hills for short-range electric vehicles.

It’s also largely pro-environmental, while cycling is a considered a widely-enjoyed method of transport, rather than simply a pastime.

When we drove the Toyota Yaris Hybrid there last year, we were struck by repeated sightings of Fisker Karmas and Opel Amperas (Chevy Volts)–they really do seem popular.

The country had respectable plug-in vehicle sales of 7,410 in 2012, from a population of under 17 million. Compare that to the U.S. plug-in total of around 52,000 cars, around seven times higher, from a population over eighteen times greater.

And, as The New York Times reports, charging posts by the side of the street are commonplace. All these factors are making the Netherlands something of a test bed for electric vehicles.

While not universally popular–those 7,000 sales still represented less than a percent of the country’s total new vehicle sales–analysts predict sales of 15,000-20,000 per year in the country by 2015–a realistic estimate.
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