When the going gets tough, the tough…prop up struggling new industries with government support? That doesn’t sound right, but it’s exactly the line of thinking that has EU policymakers surprisingly upbeat about the prospect of new green technologies competing with bargain-basement oil. Reuters reports:
A roughly 50 percent drop in the international oil market since June…lessens consumers’ incentive to buy electric and hybrid vehicles.EU sales of electrically chargeable vehicles in the last quarter of 2014 fell to 24,548 from 26,607 in the final quarter of 2013, a nearly 8 percent drop, figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association revealed on Wednesday. […]European policymakers, meanwhile, plan more regulatory incentives as they seek to cut dependency on imported fossil fuel and to limit carbon emissions. Electric vehicles are an environmental solution provided they use renewable power.
As gas prices drop, apparently so too does the demand for electric cars. Here in the U.S., we’ve already seen a spike in SUV sales in response to sub-$2.00 per gallon gas. This tells us that the surge in hybrid and electric vehicle sales we’ve seen in recent years has largely come because of consumer interest in potential savings, not out of some deep abiding love for the technology or a desire to be one with Gaia on the highway.Meanwhile EU regulators remain undaunted by the rapidly dimming prospects of one of their precious environmental policy hobby horses. “Some people think that the recent decrease in oil prices will have a negative impact on electric cars. Personally, I am convinced that this will not be the case…New targets will trigger innovation and investments,” said EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete.Rather than adjusting strategies according to prevailing market forces, the EU seems set to double down on regulations in an attempt to cram an increasingly unpopular product down the consumer’s throat. That’s a remarkably short-sighted position from a group so publicly concerned about sustainability.