Like politicians everywhere, elected officials in Sweden are fond of making grand pronouncements but aren’t so good at filling in the details. Sweden has made a big show of saying it wants to ban sales of cars with internal combustion engines by 2030 but has done virtually nothing to make that goal become a reality. At present, the electric car accounts for a woeful 0.18% of the total number of cars on Swedish roads. And you thought that US was doing poorly at getting people to drive electric cars!
Renault has made a proposal to the Swedish government which it thinks could help speed things along. It suggests the government subsidize driver education programs for electric car drivers and create a special EV license for those who pass the training. Don’t sneeze at the idea, you US drivers who only need a detectable pulse to get a driver’s license. In Sweden (and most of Europe), the licensing process involves quite a bit more than knowing how to chew gum and operate the turn signals at the same time.
Candidates must attend extensive classes and pass multiple written tests. Then they must demonstrate their car control in up to 9 road tests, including one on an oiled track. It is not an accident that drivers in that part of the world are proficient at what is known as “the Scandinavian flick,” a maneuver used by rally drivers to kick the back end loose in order to position the car for the next curve in the road.
It stands to reason that taking all the required courses and passing all the driving tests costs a fair amount of money. Renault is asking the government to consider paying most of the cost of driver training for those who want to drive electric cars. Once a special EV license is obtained, it would entitle the holder to free parking and free charging in most urban areas.
A poll commissioned by Renault earlier this year found broad support for electric cars in the Swedish population. 60% said they would like to see more electric cars on the road. A majority of Swedes (51%) also feel the government is not doing enough to reach the goal of no internal combustion cars after 2030.
“Sweden is often seen as a leading country, both when it comes to techical solutions and social change. That’s why it is surprising that Sweden is moving slow in the transition of becoming a nation independednt of fossil fuel vehicles. We strive to do our part in leading society forward, which has encouraged us to boost an EV revolution,” says Lars Höglin, brand engagement manager for Renault in Sweden.
The Renalt Zoe is one of the most popular electric cars in Europe. Somewhat smaller but mechanically similar to the Nissan LEAF, it has benefited from a recent increase in battery size. That change has boosted its range from 140 miles to 240 miles. (Both numbers are based on the New European Driving Cycle, which is typically about 25% more generous than EPA numbers would be.)
In an effort to do well as it is doing good, Renault has offered to provide free driver training to 400 Swedish citizens. If and when a special driver’s license is created for electric car owners, the thinking is that they will all flock into their nearest Renault dealer to buy a Zoe at that time.
“We need to change the attitude towards electric cars and that’s where future drivers are our key players. As a manufacturer, we know what barriers Swedes experience in electric cars. Previously, the range has been an obstacle but as the [Zoe has] now been updated, there is no need for range anxiety. There are no excused not to drive electric,” Renault’s Höglin says. People in Sweden can now digitally sign a petition urging the government to adopt the Renault EV driver’s license proposal.
Source and photo credit: Renault Sweden