The purchase of electric cars is subsidized by the state in Germany. There are up to 9000 euros for a new electric vehicle. But the subsidy system apparently invites systematic fraud. As the “Spiegel” reports, citing the Berlin “Schmidt Automotive Research” institute, a number of German e-car buyers first collect the premium in order to then sell their car abroad at a profit.
“The loser is the German taxpayer, who indirectly subsidizes clean air in cities outside Germany and not in Germany itself,” says automobile analyst and institute founder Matthias Schmidt in the report.
Schmidt relies on data from the Federal Motor Transport Authority. According to this, between January 2012 and July 2022, 890,000 electric cars were registered in Germany – but as of July 1, 2022, only 756,517 vehicles were still registered in Germany. According to Schmidt, this is proof that more than 100,000 electric cars have left the German market.
According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, everything is just guesswork. The difference could be so high due to accidents or shutdowns. For Schmidt, that is not likely – after all, most e-cars are no more than ten years old and such a high number of accidents with e-cars has not been proven.
The analyst thinks it’s likely that car dealers will take advantage of the German subsidy system and sell cars abroad. In countries like Denmark in particular, high tax rates apply to luxury e-cars like Tesla, some of which exceed the list prices of the vehicles. This different taxation practice makes it attractive to register the car in Germany and sell it abroad after six months.
The German funding guidelines stipulate that the e-cars must be kept by the buyer for at least six months. The Internet is full of offers from car dealers to be able to drive a Tesla for free for six months. According to the Center of Automotive Management, these “legal” tricks would cost German taxpayers hundreds of millions. Such gaps in the number of registrations can also be seen in Switzerland. Buyers in other countries benefit from the clean air that is promoted and the reduced purchase price for electric cars – and the car dealers do good business. The demand for electric cars is high, the supply is low.
The luxury brand Tesla in particular seems to be particularly affected by the tax swindle. According to Schmidt, 98,000 Tesla vehicles had been registered in Germany by July 2022 – as of July 1, the number actually reported on the roads was only 76,690 vehicles. “This means that almost every fourth Tesla that was first registered in Germany has left the market again,” says Schmidt.
The federal government must correct the minimum holding period sharply upwards. Instead of six months, this should be five years, Schmidt demands. As early as February, the Federal Ministry of Economics wrote in a statement: “It is not in the interest of the subsidy that subsidized cars are regularly sold in other European countries after the minimum holding period has expired.”
According to the report, the minimum holding period will soon be doubled to twelve months. Then the loss in value is higher and a sale abroad is less attractive. Cuts are also planned for car premiums: the subsidies for fully electric cars are to be reduced in the coming years. Plug-in hybrids will no longer be funded from 2023. No matter how strong countermeasures are taken, the profits made from the e-car trade can at least no longer be recovered.
A cheap local transport ticket for the whole country and a significant tax cut for fuel expire on Thursday. At German petrol stations, prices are skyrocketing: diesel sometimes costs more than 2.40 euros. In the past two weeks, prices have continued to rise.
The airport chaos in Germany should pick up speed again. Lufthansa pilots are on strike on Friday, September 2nd. According to the “Vereinigung Cockpit” union, the reason for this is failed collective bargaining. All important developments at the airports here in our new ticker.