Finance Minister Lindner wants to remove the electric purchase premiums. The industry fears a slump in demand. At least 15 million electric vehicles are said to be driving five years before the ban on combustion engine cars. Can that work? And does it even have to be?

Electric cars are no longer exotic on German roads. But all the Tesla Model 3, VW ID3 or Audi e-trons are seen much more often than before, but they still only make up a tiny part of the vehicle population. “ Of the 48.5 million cars in Germany that were registered on January 1, 2022, electric cars accounted for only 1.3 percent. The Federal Motor Transport Authority in Flensburg recorded 618,460 purely electric cars,” the magazine “Auto Verkehr” analyzed.

The goal of one million electric cars set by ex-Chancellor Merkel was only achieved with a trick by adding plug-in hybrids (currently 566,000 cars). With 31 million petrol cars (63.9%) and 14.8 million diesel cars (30.5%), combustion engines are still by far the most widespread drive technology. Gasoline and diesel power 94.4% of all cars.

In view of the fact that the EU wants to ban all new petrol and diesel cars in 13 years at the latest, there is still plenty of room for improvement on the plug front. The current goal of the traffic light coalition is: 15 million electric cars in Germany by 2030 at the latest. But how realistic is this goal?

In any case, both the car manufacturers and the buyers have to step on the gas if the goal is to be achieved:

Accordingly, Finance Minister Lindner (FDP) wants to cancel the electric purchase premium. Economics Minister Habeck (Greens) had previously indicated that the first thing to do was to stop promoting plug-in hybrids – also logical: On the one hand, these are just as much subject to the 2035 combustion engine ban as petrol and diesel engines and, on the other hand, they are in terms of real consumption – and thus the Emissions – significantly worse than officially announced.

It remains to be seen whether the traffic light will bow to pressure from the auto industry. The demands continue to be supported with purchase bonuses and other facilitations. Reinhard Zirpel, Chairman of the Association of International Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (VDIK), warned of a slump in the German market for e-cars and of increasing CO2 emissions from traffic. “The discussion alone about ending the purchase premiums for electric vehicles is already leading to massive uncertainty. The federal government should end this speculation immediately,” said Zirpel. Finance Minister Lindner, on the other hand, says: “So far, the cars have been subsidized with up to 20,000 euros over their lifetime, even for top earners. This is too much. We can save billions that we can use more sensibly. “

The car manufacturers’ claims that the purchase bonuses are still needed actually do not fit their own strategy, because they are sorting out petrol and diesel cars themselves at record speed. Audi, Opel, Fiat and Mercedes, for example, will all be electric in the 2020s.

Even without the problem of subsidies, the question remains as to how the ongoing problems with semiconductors and wiring harnesses will affect the possible deliveries of new e-vehicles. The analysts from Dataforce expect that in 2030 there will only be eleven million vehicles in Germany with a plug. Not only is the number of new registrations too low for the target of 15 million announced by the federal government, but also too many vehicles are exported.

One of the mostly unmentioned problems is that many electric cars are quickly deregistered and sold abroad after the purchase, which is heavily subsidized by the state. The data shows that deregistrations for electric cars are significantly higher than for the total stock. At the end of 2021, there were still 3.11 million of the 3.44 million cars registered in 2018. This means that 9.4 percent of new registrations were exported after three years or taken out of service for other reasons.

If new cars are up to 10,000 euros cheaper thanks to high subsidies, younger used cars in particular can only be sold in Germany with significant discounts. Used electric cars are therefore often exported because they achieve significantly higher sales prices in other countries. The holding period for a correspondingly subsidized electric car in Germany is just six months. The federal government is therefore considering extending this holding period to 12 or even 18 months. Incidentally, a quick end to the electric purchase premiums would also defuse this problem, because then the profit margin for the exported cars would be significantly lower.

The bottom line is that the traffic light target of 15 million is quite unrealistic. But strictly speaking it is also obsolete, because the EU ban on combustion engines sets the course for electric within a few years anyway. The automakers are going along with it, either because they believe in the technology or because they are simply adapting to the circumstances. A quantitative sales target seems unnecessary – and may soon be conceded by traffic lights.

On our e-mobility portal you will find all e-vehicles available on the German market

You can also arrange a test drive for the car of your choice free of charge and thus start e-mobility in an uncomplicated manner.