Mind over Managing: Final sales now on?

My last column in this newspaper talked excitedly about the last election being dominated by a ‘green’ agenda with seemingly huge support from the general voting populace.

Cars: more and bigger
It is therefore difficult to know how to interpret the figures released last week regarding Danish car consumption in 2019.

According to figures from Danske Bilimportører, sales in Denmark may have only risen by 3 percent last year, but the 225,594 new cars was more than double the number in 2009.

More alarmingly, from a climate perspective, sales of SUVs (which because of their size consume more petrol) rose from 2 percent of all cars sold ten years ago to 34 percent last year. The small car share, meanwhile, fell from 47 percent in 2009 to 34 percent in 2019.

Lars: rich and spending
So what’s going on here? A partial explanation can be found in fiscal policy: the tax payable on petrol cars was reduced by successive governments in 2007, 2015 and again in 2017, whilst in the same period the tax on electric cars has increased.

The economy has also improved significantly since 2009 in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis. Additional spending power could have a lot to do with it.

But what if the truth, as the Danish comedian Mikkel Klint Thorius eloquently puts it regarding climate change, is that we “just can’t stop when we’re having so much fun”.

This theory would appear to be backed up by Jytte Norden, a car salesman with 25 years experience, who told the Danish daily Information recently: “It’s very fashionable at the moment to think about the climate, but you don’t see that reflected in decisions when we buy cars.”

Ours: seizing the day
This state of cognitive dissonance – believing two opposing things simultaneously – and the stress created by it could also explain some of the justifications for business as usual that are often used. “You only live once” (also an explanation provided by Norden) is an example of this.

It could also be a reflection of last-minute panic. The consumption of cars, meat and dairy etc could all be limited by legislation in the not too distant future, so it’s better to buy while you still can? So, are the final sales now on?