Purchase of electric vehicles in Copenhagen (Denmark)

By News Editor / Updated: 29 Aug 2014

In the period from 1996 to 2000, the municipality of Copenhagen participated in the EU funded project ZEUS (Zero and low Emission vehicles in Urban Society). The municipality prepared a tender together with 5 other European cities. Copenhagen replaced 50 combustion engine cars with 50 battery electric vehicles (BEV). The cars were used by employees of the municipality.


The main target for the project was to help develop better BEVs through, creating demanding for them. The target for the Municipality of Copenhagen was to purchase at least 50 BEVs as replacement for cars in the municipality with a regular combustion engine.The municipality of Copenhagen was mainly motivated by the prospect of improving the BEV-market supply and the chance to develop knowledge about how BEVs would fit into the everyday work in the municipality. On a broader scale the climate debate was not as present as we see today. This was illustrated by the main drivers behind the project being the reduction of air pollution in the city of Copenhagen and taking a first step towards a future transport system.

Major targets

In 1997 the municipality developed specific requirement specifications for desired BEVs in co-operation with 5 other European cities. Later that year a tender was presented on behalf of all the cities, with the purpose of showing that a demand for BEVs was present among European cities and hopefully giving a push to the market for BEVs in Europe.The municipality began its focus on BEVs in the early 1990'ies as 20 designated free parking spaces for electric vehicles were established, which also provided free charging of 8-10 hours to fully charge. The ZEUS project contained the purchase of 50 BEVs for the municipality of Copenhagen, and the development of infrastructure that made it possible for employees to use them in their daily work.>In the summer of 1999 the municipality had purchased 20 Citroen Berlingo CityVan Electrique, 17 Citroen Saxo Electrique and 6 Purpose made electric maintenance vehicles. At the end of the project the aim of buying 50 BEVs was reached.

Major results and lessons learned

The cars had a radius of action of just below 100 km. After analysing the use of the vehicles in the administration it was discovered, that average driving use for car was approximately 40 km per day. The experiences from implementing the vehicles were that the BEVs seemed to cover the tasks needed by the staff of the municipalities as well as a conventional combustion engine would do.The charging of the cars was predominantly taking place during night hours. The main time consuming and expensive part of the project was the preparation of the common procurement. This is also seen as one of the most valuable parts of the project, with regards to the learning process. The challenge to unite the wishes and needs from 5 different cities and to combine these with the possibilities the BEV market presented.During the period of the project, Citroen withdrew most of its BEV models from the market. This meant that Copenhagen failed to buy BEVs, after this project had finished. The project did not seem to have a long lasting effect on the market.Further steps:Currently the municipality of Copenhagen develops a new plan focusing massively on buying BEVs. The plan is to buy BEVs on a small scale this year. From 2011, the municipality will only buy BEVs, in an attempt to achieve 85% BEVs of their total fleet by 2020.

Further Information

web site ZEUS project
Clean and energy-efficient vehicles
Anne-Mette Wehmüller
Anne-Mette Wehmüller
16 Dec 2009
29 Aug 2014