Minister Harbers: ‘The best car era is still ahead of us’

Current state of affairs

With the document ‘Future Perspective Automobility – Development Agenda’, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management sheds light on the current state of affairs regarding automobility in the Netherlands. In addition, it also provides direction for the future, where “the best era of the car in the Netherlands is still ahead of us”, according to Minister Harbers (VVD). We highlight some interesting data.

The Automobility Development Agenda mainly focuses on the Dutch car ambitions in the period from now to 2050. The most important thing is to ensure that the car can continue to fulfill its important role in the mobility of the Dutch citizen. This can be translated into three ambitions: good accessibility in all parts of the Netherlands, cleaner, smarter and safer car mobility and a reliable, safe and future-proof main road network.

The document follows on from the ‘Automobility Future Perspective’ from 2021 and outlines the direction for the policy commitment of the Ministry for car mobility towards 2050, for which the current state of affairs is of course important. The Dutch population is expected to continue to grow until 2050, as will the demand for car mobility.

A third of the Dutch see car ownership as a necessity

The ministry wants everyone who needs a car for their mobility to be able to use it, also in 2050 and regardless of where in the Netherlands the place of residence or destination is. The negative effects of cars, such as pollution, danger and space requirements, must be kept to a minimum. Especially outside the urban area and between urban areas, the car is very important. 85 percent of journeys over a longer distance are made by car outside the urban area. When traveling between the major cities, the car is also the most important. 60 percent of such trips are by car, compared to 30 to 35 percent by public transport. Striking: almost half of the Dutch indicate that they are increasingly dependent on the car and a third of the Dutch see car ownership as a necessity.

More (heavy) cars, more shared cars

That part of the population will grow rather than shrink, because the number of annual car kilometers in the Netherlands is expected to increase considerably. The future scenarios vary between a decrease of 6 percent and an increase of 32 percent in the number of car kilometers compared to 2018, in which some 100 billion car kilometers were covered. The number of cars in the fleet is growing and the number of shared cars is multiplying. The latter is becoming increasingly popular, especially in metropolitan areas, and you can already find more than one shared car per 100 inhabitants.

It is also expected that cars will become larger and heavier. Currently, 50 percent of the Dutch fleet consists of A and B segment vehicles. In 2030 that will be about 43 percent. In addition: now about 10 percent of the cars are a ‘heavy vehicle’ of more than 1,550 kg. That percentage is likely to be around 18 percent in 2030.

Increase in shared cars and charging stations

The number of shared cars is growing enormously in highly urbanized areas.

Accessibility is deteriorating, infrastructure expansion not mentioned

If the increase in the number of cars and car kilometers takes place according to one of the more severe scenarios (i.e. with an increase in the number of car kilometers of towards 32 percent), traffic jams in the Netherlands will increase sharply, in the Randstad, but also beyond. However, when drawing up those scenarios, the ‘pay-as-you-go’ plans were not yet taken into account, which are expected to reduce the demand for car mobility somewhat. Incidentally, the expansion of the infrastructure is not mentioned among the points for attention for improving accessibility. However, attention is being paid to improving it, with cars and roads being further digitized and more attention being paid to the distribution of traffic flows.

To improve safety, we count on the further technological development of cars, the effects of campaigns on safe traffic behavior and a safer infrastructure. For the latter, the only concrete change mentioned is that it should become easier for municipalities to reduce the speed on roads within built-up areas from 50 to 30 km/h.

‘Dense’ charging network in the world

In order to facilitate the transition to electric driving, the Netherlands continues to expand the charging network, which has already been done rapidly in recent years. The Netherlands currently has the highest charging point density in the world. At the end of 2022, there were more than 120,000 public or semi-public charging points and more than 4,000 fast charging points. How many charging points there should be in total by, for example, 2030 or 2050, remains unclear for the time being. However, it is expected that the increasing demand will be able to keep up.

Increase in shared cars and charging stations

The rapid increase in the number of charging points.

– Thanks for information from

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