Munich / Eschborn (dpa) – With the doubling a year ago, the electric car subsidies have finally ignited. In the course of twelve months, well over half a million vehicles with purely electric or plug-in hybrid engines have been registered – more than in all previous years combined.
The state-fueled boom emerges from the data from the Federal Motor Vehicle Office. This means that the goal of one million electric cars on German roads is within reach, which the bonus should one day give a boost.
Accordingly, the costs of the subsidies have skyrocketed since then: These add up to a good 1.9 billion euros from the beginning of June 2020 to the end of June 2021, as the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (Bafa) responsible for paying out the subsidies in Eschborn announced on request.
Electric cars are no longer a niche product. According to a new survey on behalf of the Verivox portal, 14.6 percent of potential car buyers between the ages of 18 and 69 say their next car should be a purely electric car. 7.7 percent prefer a plug-in hybrid, so more than a fifth together.
In terms of popularity, e-cars are still far behind gasoline engines, which are preferred by almost 38 percent, but ahead of diesel with 12 percent. For the representative online survey, the market research institute Innofact asked 1000 people in June.
A year ago, the Federal Cabinet resolved to double the purchase subsidy, with retroactive effect to June 3, to double the purchase subsidy. The number of registrations – and the associated expenses – skyrocketed almost overnight: from the beginning of June 2020 to the end of May 2021, over 567,000 new electric cars were registered, and another 65,000 were added in June. For comparison: in the previous four years from 2016 to 2019 there had been a total of only 256,000 electric vehicles, before that even fewer. Hybrid motors without an externally chargeable battery are not counted.
The goal of one million e-cars should be achieved by 2020
The number of electric cars and plug-in hybrids on German roads is now approaching the federal government’s target of one million, which should actually have been achieved last year. Including light commercial vehicles, Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU) hopes to achieve this in July. Even with cars alone, given the current figures, it should be so far in the coming months.
For the state treasury, the subsidies are associated with rapidly increasing expenditure: In the first half of 2020, 77.6 million euros were paid out to car buyers for the switch to climate-friendly mobility, as reported by Bafa. After doubling the grant, it was already 575 million in the second half of the year, a seven-fold increase. And this year it was already 1.33 billion euros by the end of June. The purchase and leasing of pure battery cars and plug-in hybrids with rechargeable batteries are funded. Cars with fuel cell engines are also subsidized, although only minimal numbers of these are permitted.
The higher subsidies are intended to help the German auto industry on the one hand and to reduce CO2 emissions on the other. Some experts and associations reject the high subsidies, including the taxpayers’ association.
One point of criticism did not come true: that the subsidies would mainly benefit foreign manufacturers. In terms of sales of battery and plug-in hybrid cars, four German manufacturers are in the first four places this year: VW – the brand, not the group – led the way with a good 59,000 cars in the first half of the year, followed by Mercedes and BMW and Audi. As the first foreign manufacturer, Renault was in fifth place. Tesla was also in second place behind VW when it came to purely battery-powered cars.
According to the Verivox survey, private customers prefer all-electric cars, while plug-in hybrids are more preferred than company vehicles. “The market share of purely electric vehicles is likely to increase further in the coming months due to customer interest,” said Wolfgang Schütz, managing director of Verivox insurance comparison.
The argument that the range is too short still prevails
Almost a third of those surveyed believe that all-electric cars will gain the most market share in the next 10 years. The most frequent argument against an electric car is still the insufficient range, which was mentioned by 46.7 percent of those surveyed.
In the medium term, however, the electric car boom could also reach its limits. Industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer expects that in a few years the demand for batteries will exceed the supply, which could slow down production.