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Switzerland - Policies and Legislation

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Swiss governmental policy is hesitant to promote electric vehicles actively as a result of the mixed results from the country’s previous forays into vehicle electrification during the 1990s, which did not take root beyond selling niche electric transport products.

The government is also not taking a leading role in the development of a public charging infrastructure. Swiss government policy efforts instead focus on developing the framework conditions for electric vehicles and public charging infrastructure. This approach has the benefit of avoiding preferential treatment for any specific technology.

In most of Switzerland's Cantons, electric and hybrid vehicles profit from a reduction or even exemption from vehicle taxes. At the federal level there is discussion about a bonus-malus (“good-bad”) system concerning vehicle import taxes dependent upon CO2 emissions. The government also expects that the parliamentary acceptance of a bill that will limit CO2 emissions to 130 g/km for new cars starting in 2015 will likely encourage at least some adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Moreover, the high penalties levied on car importers for surpassing the 130 g CO2/km emissions threshold is expected to incentivize domestic car importers to import clean vehicles, particularly battery electric models, in order to offset higher CO2 emissions of ICE car models in the fleet.

The Federal government delegates the role of distributing information on hybrid and electric vehicles to the non-governmental agency Eco Mobile with the organizations e’mobile and NewRide (promoting electric two-wheelers) as partners. Currently, the Swiss Touring Club (TCS), a traditional motorists' association, also gets government support to act as an information platform on electric mobility.

In summary, the Swiss government believes the introduction of electric vehicles should be driven by market forces. It views its role as a facilitator of information for a network of stakeholders and as the guarantor of a legal and fiscal system that favors ecologically sustainable applications.