Switzerland has announced plans to end its tax exemption of electric vehicles (EVs), with the decision set to go into effect next year.
The news was announced in a press release from the Swiss Federal Council on Wednesday, in which officials said EVs will join the rest of vehicles in facing a 4 percent import duty starting on January 1, 2024. Although the council says EVs have been exempt from automobile duties since 1997, the release adds that the government sees the exemption as being “no longer necessary,” since the adoption of the technology has increased so rapidly in recent years.
“The Federal Council takes the view that the exemption from duty as an incentive is no longer necessary, given the sharp rise in the share of e-vehicles in total car imports and the convergence of prices,” the council writes in the press release.
The council points out that annual EV imports increased nearly sixfold between 2018 and 2022, growing from roughly 8,000 to about 45,000. In the first half of this year, around 30,400 EVs were imported, marking an increase of around 66 percent from the same period a year earlier.
In addition to increased EV adoption, the release states that the council hopes to use additional funding from EV owners to address certain shortcomings in tax receipts and to create a revenue stream into the country’s motorway and urban transportation fund.
The council says that the increase in EVs led to a substantial decrease in automobile duties collected, with the total tax shortfall in the years 2022 and 2023 estimated to be roughly CHF 78 million (~$86.7 million) and ranging from CHF 100-150 million (~$111.2 million to ~$166.8 million), respectively.
With the change, the council expects the government to bring in an additional CHF 2 billion to CHF 3 billion (~$2.22 billion to ~$3.34 billion) in revenue between 2024 and 2030.
The release also says that the original consultation for amending the Vehicle Duty Ordinance to include EVs lasted from April 5 to July 12, adding that most participants favored the change. However, roughly a third of those in favor wanted to delay when the change is implemented.
Despite the Federal Council’s optimism about the change, some are not happy with the policy change, especially as incentives have been used to help accelerate EV adoption in countries around the world. In a report from Bloomberg, the Swiss head of the Association of Swiss Automobile Importers, Peter Grünenfelder, said it was “a black day for electric mobility in Switzerland” following the news.
Grünenfelder added that removing the EV exemption was “in stark contrast to the CO2 reduction targets for new vehicles set by the same government.”