The Dutch municipality of The Hague is looking for a few good people to lease an e-Golf electric car for a year. 20 lucky people will get a more favorable lease rate plus 10,000 kilometers of free electricity during the year. But there’s a catch. They have to let other people rent or borrow the car at least five times a month during the year.
We here at Gas 2 like to say, “People who don’t like electric cars are people who have never tried electric cars.” We have been especially critical of franchise dealers who don’t want to stock them, don’t want to sell them, and don’t want to take the time to educate people about them. The Hague program is designed specifically to let more people experience the goodness of driving electric by getting more people behind the wheel.
The program may seem a bit odd to Americans. It starts with a Volkswagen e-Golf. Usually, a three or four year lease is required, but in this program, drivers only have to commit to a one year term. During the year, they will get enough zero emissions electricity from Dutch windmills to drive up to 10,000 kilometers.
The monthly lease payments is € 484, (about $515 a month) which includes the Value Added Tax. That’s what we in the US think of as sales tax. Businesses will be charged € 400 a month (about $420) but will have to pay the VAT in addition. Here’s where it gets interesting. Each driver who leases an e-Golf under this program must share it, so others can find out what driving an electric car is really like.
According to the official announcement by the government of The Hague, “The condition for participating is that you share the car at least 5 times a month with other drivers. This could be friends, family or colleagues but also people you do not know through the website SnappCar.nl. You ask an amount per day and per kilometre. This way you lower the costs. Jeroen Prinsen from Portugal rented his car 90 times a year. He says: ‘My lease costs were € 5,000, my rental income more than € 2,000’. ‘Fantastic if you can earn back nearly half your costs.’
Okay. This precise arrangement may not work all that swell in the US. If you call your insurance company and tell them you are renting your car to strangers, they may frown on the idea. Actually, a scowl would probably be more like it. If paying $500 a month to lease a car you are required to share with others seems steep to you, keep in mind that gasoline in Europe is not cheaper than milk, the way it is here in the colonies. Free electricity and no gas to buy may amount to a tidy savings each month if you live in the Netherlands.
The lease deal includes a free charger for the car (but not installation) and a “€ 50 of credit for GreenWheels if you need a car when your car has been rented out.” Applications are due by March 31 of this year.
Once again, this may not be the ideal plan for people in the US, but it is an example of one way to familiarize more people with what driving an electric car is like. If Chevrolet wants to really get the Bolt off to a fast start, it could devise a program like this. Put 500 cars in the hands of qualified drivers at reduced cost and turn them loose to spread the word among the populace.
If anyone at GM wants to contact me about this idea, I am willing to work for half the normal pay of a top GM executive. I’ll be waiting for your call.