Essent sees 1 million Dutch electric cars by 2020

AMSTERDAM Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:51pm EDT

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch utility Essent expects to see one million electric vehicles on the roads in the Netherlands by 2020, its head of new energy said on Thursday.

Alexandra van Huffelen said Essent was working with other Dutch companies to stimulate the industry, lobbying the government to speed up the introduction of electric cars and launching demonstration projects around the country.

She expected the first rollout of electric cars on Dutch roads in 2010-11, with more widespread usage around 2015, when advances in battery technology were likely to have reduced costs.

"Battery companies say they expect to improve the batteries, but that will take some time," she said. "That is also why we need a subsidy scheme and tax schemes (to help consumers)."

The one million cars by 2020 would include plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles and match a figure the German government wants to see on its roads by the same date.

The Dutch government introduced a system of incentives earlier this year to encourage companies and individuals to buy electric cars, such as financial support and tax exemptions and has said it will buy electric cars for its own fleet.

Earlier this week, a group of Dutch companies including mail company TNT TNT.AS and utility Eneco launched a tender to buy 3,000 electric cars in the next three years.

Grid operators have agreed to build at least 10,000 charging stations around the country by about 2012.

Essent, part of which Germany's RWE (RWEG.DE) is buying, is developing wind energy plants and looking at ways to use more biomass in power generation as part of its new energy strategy, Van Huffelen said.

She said the ramp-up of electric transport made it even more important for the Dutch government to support and subsidize renewable energy projects such as wind farms.

"If we are going to use even more electricity, then we need to have even more renewable sources than we have today," Van Huffelen said.

(Reporting by Catherine Hornby; editing by John Stonestreet)