The Jaguar I-Pace full-electric SUV was the best-selling car in the Netherlands in December as buyers scrambled to get ahead of a tax change for premium EVs.
Jaguar sold 2,621 examples of the newly launched I-Pace during the month, giving the brand 13 percent of the country's total car market. The Tesla Model S was second with 1,558 sales.
The figure was more astonishing given Jaguar's comparatively low profile in the Netherlands. The brand's next best-selling car last month, the midsize XF, sold just 16. In total, the I-Pace took 75 percent of Jaguar's sales for the year in the Netherlands despite being launched in October, according to figures from the Dutch RAI Association for cars and bicycles.
The sudden demand for the I-Pace and for the second-placed Tesla Model S was prompted by a change in company car tax in the country starting Jan. 1. It meant the low 4 percent benefit-in-kind rate only applied to the first 50,000 euros of the new car-price, instead of the whole price.
The changes mean the cost to tax a Jaguar I-Pace, which starts at 80,810 euros in the Netherlands, doubled annually from the start of the year. "This makes more expensive electric cars less attractive," the RAI Association said.
Audi managed to launch the e-tron electric SUV into the market in time to register 163 cars in the country in December, while Tesla also sold 652 of the Model X SUV.
The haste to avoid the tax saw full electric cars take 30 percent of all sales in December, and helped push the market for pure EVs in the Netherlands to 24,024 last year, a rise of 200 percent compared to 2017. The 2019 change in tax rules "played an important role" in the rise, RAI Association said. Despite that, it forecast EV sales to grow to 28,000 in the country for the year.
The Netherlands has been generous with incentives for electrified vehicle but equally quick to remove them if the government thinks they need to be changed. At the start of 2016, the Netherlands slashed incentives for plug-in hybrids after discovering very few of them were being plugged in. The market halved as a consequence.