CSSN Scholar John Chung-En Liu co-wrote a research paper examining why Taiwan’s policy proposal to ban new sales of gasoline-powered scooters by 2035 and passenger cars by 2040 failed less than two years later.
Phasing out fossil fuel vehicles is an indispensable pillar to decarbonize the transportation sector. In 2017, Taiwan proposed to ban all new sales of gasoline-powered scooters by 2035 and passenger cars by 2040. In less than two years, the phase-out policy was suspended. We explore this policy failure through the lens of multi-level perspective (MLP) framework and examine the interactions between the radical niche innovations, the incumbent regime, and the socio-technical landscape. We first show that the scooter industry played a decisive role in the policymaking processes. As an emerging niche innovation, however, the e-scooter manufacturers faced difficulties with scaling up their new system and confronting customer complaints. We also illustrate that Taiwan’s fossil fuel vehicle phase-out suffers from hasty policy formulation and lack of effective coordination. The incumbent regime took advantage of the fragmented governance structure, and even brought back gasoline scooter subsidies successfully. In the socio-technical landscape, the phase-out policy is embedded in the ruling party’s progressive reform package. Taiwan’s gasoline scooter supply chains, in the campaign of “Equal Rights for Gasoline and Electricity”, appropriated the rhetoric of social justice and framed the phase-out policy as unfair. Facing huge defeat in the local election in 2018, the ruling party considered the phase-out policy as immature and reversed course. This paper provides a rare case study of mobility transition when two-wheel vehicles are dominant, and offer implications to countries in similar contexts.