The Downside to Eco-Friendly Cars
August 1, 2016
The Jerusalem Post — At first glance, it would seem that Israel’s program to encourage people to buy energy efficient cars has worked.
In the year after Israel introduced the ambitious program in 2009, lowering taxes based on a car’s energy efficiency, the market share of these jumped by 71 percent.
However, researchers at Ben-Gurion University have found that despite the positive-seeming statistics the incentives have actually hurt the environment.
For the study, BGU researchers Dr. Stav Rosenzweig, Dr. Ofir D. Rubin and Ph.D. student Aviv Steren looked at data from the year before the 2009 legislation went into effect compared to the years following. They discovered that the program has some unintended consequences.
One of these consequences is that despite the jump in energy-efficient vehicles on the road, the vehicles encouraged people to drive more frequently and longer distances, thus negating the eco-friendly outcome.
“Policy makers with really good intentions are not always aware of the way people will respond to their policies,” says Dr. Rosenzweig, a researcher at BGU’s Department of Management in the Guilford Glazer School of Business and Management.
In addition, as green vehicle prices dropped, this forced the prices of other vehicles on the market to drop, in an effort to stay competitive.
The BGU researchers conclude that among the best solutions would be to increase public awareness of the pollution that comes from being on the road and find ways to stimulate people to drive less.
This could include encouraging more public transportation and providing more lanes for buses and taxis.