Our planet in times of global warming, image source: Shutterstock

Humanity doesn’t need diesel, but we do need a healthy planet. Electric cars help keep the Earth alive, but many people have doubts. “It won’t be feasible with such a short driving range,” they say. The current generation of e-cars can travel a solid 400 kilometres, although the average driver only drives about 40 kilometres a day – how about that! The biggest sceptics are people who have never driven an electric car. But anyone who has ever experienced the silence, power and smoothness of an electric car will never want to go back to a combustion engine. Diesel and petrol cars in particular can't give you that positive feeling of doing something good for the planet.

It's about time to rethink

But that is urgently needed in Austria right now. We are among the worst performers in the EU when it comes to achieving the climate protection goals set out in the Kyoto Protocol. Today, we output even more harmful CO2 than in the reference year of 1990. The use of private vehicles is responsible for a quarter of our emissions. In this particular area, every individual can start doing something to combat global warming and protect our environment. If we all sped through the Alps in our diesel SUVs a little less often, there might still be snow there in the future.

The incentives for electric cars that the government has introduced are very welcome. Adding new bus lanes and free parking in cities are just first steps, and there's a lot more to be done. The €72 million invested in initiatives to subsidise electric cars and charging stations is miniscule compared with the €700 million per year lost by the government coffers thanks to low taxes on diesel fuel – a tax break that is no longer appropriate given our global climate problem.

Eliminating this discount would make electric cars even more economical than they already are. Buying an electric car is still much more expensive, but you would save tremendously on energy, maintenance and repair costs.

Good examples show how it works

Many examples demonstrate that e-mobility is perfectly ready for everyday use. Leading the way is Norway, where half of all new vehicle registrations are for electric cars. The island of Porto Santo in Madeira, which has 5000 residents and three times as many holidaymakers, is striving to become the first island ever to be free of fossil fuels. We also need role models like these in politics as well as the corporate and private sectors.

Electric mobility is not eco-warrior nonsense – it is our future. It wouldn’t hurt to expand our mindset and acknowledge that. But a dead planet surely will.

A comment of Thomas Raffeiner, CEO and founder of The Mobility House, in ELO magazine