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Electric Vehicles in Germany

The adoption of plug-in electric vehicles in Germany is actively supported by the German Federal Government. Under its National Platform for Electric Mobility, Chancellor Angela Merkel set an initial goal in 2010 to deploy one million electric vehicles on German roads by 2020. Initially, the government did not provide subsidies to promote sales of plug-in electric vehicles, however, by the end of 2014 it was recognized that the country was well behind the set sales targets. A purchase bonus scheme was approved in 2016, but premium cars were not eligible to the incentive. In order to meet the climate targets for the transport sector, in 2016 the government set the goal to have from 7 to 10 million plug-in electric cars on the road by 2030, and 1 million charging points deployed by 2030. (1) In the following, different aspects of Germany’s measurements and their results will be described.

The future of mobility will be electric. Electric mobility is an important element of a climate-friendly energy and transport policy. Germany is, of course, strong in exports and wants to maintain its position as a world leader in electric mobility and exporter of highly innovative products in this field. In order to accelerate the development of the electric vehicle market, the Federal Government adopted a package of measures on 18 May 2016, with an investment of approximately 1 billion euros. The focus in the market incentive package is on three measures with a financial impact: temporary purchase incentives, the expansion of the charging infrastructure, and the purchase of electric vehicles by public authorities. (2)

Also, a purchase grant, known as the environmental bonus, is paid towards new vehicles – €4,000 for non-hybrid electric cars, and €3,000 for plug-in hybrids. The grant is paid towards purchases of cars with a list price of up to €60,000. The total funding is limited to €1.2 billion. The Federal Government and the automotive industry will each cover half of the costs. The funding from the Federal Government will be disbursed if the manufacturer also provides a grant. The Federal Government is providing €300 million towards expanding the charging infrastructure. €200 million is available for rapid charging infrastructure, and €100 million for normal charging. The aim continues to be that at least 20% of the Federation’s vehicle fleet should consist of electric vehicles. If employees recharge their vehicles at their place of employment, this will no longer be deemed a taxable benefit in kind. (2)

One important matter that should not be ignored is that the optimum use of electric mobility requires uniform charging and payment standards. For this reason, the German government has enacted the Charging Station Ordinance, which entered into force on 17 March 2016. The adoption of the Charging Station Ordinance means that Germany has implemented the EU Directive (2014/94/EU) in national law; this directive regulates the establishment of the infrastructure for alternative fuels. In particular, it puts binding rules in place to harmonize socket standards for publicly accessible charging stations, thus giving investors greater certainty as they construct their charging infrastructure. (2)

The ordinance contains clear and binding rules on socket standards and minimum requirements for the establishment and operation of publicly accessible charging stations for electric vehicles. Operators of publicly accessible charging stations must inform the Federal Network Agency when they are installed and come on stream, and must provide regular evidence that rapid charging stations are compliant with the technical requirements. (2)

The latest survey by the German Association for Energy and Water Management (BDEW) shows that progress is being made on the rollout of charging infrastructure. At the end of 2016, a total of 7,407 publicly accessible charging points (3,206 charging stations) were available. This means that nearly 900 new charging points were added in the second half of 2016, an increase of more than 11%. 292 of these are fast DC charging points, representing a rise of more than 20% in the same period. (2) The next step will be to harmonize authentication and payment at charging stations. Minimum payment standards are to ensure non-discriminatory access to charging facilities. On 12 May 2017, the Bundesrat approved the Ordinance amending Charging Station Ordinance II (in German) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The new rules cover ad-hoc charging, abolishing the need to participate in an electricity supplier’s in-house invoicing system. As a result, users of electric vehicles will be able to charge their vehicles and pay for the electricity at all publicly accessible charging stations using a common web-based payment system (e.g. an app), or (if available) in cash or by EC or credit card. (2)

In the first quarter of 2015, the Federal Cabinet adopted the Electric Mobility Act (in German), which assigns a label and privileges to electric cars on Germany’s roads, and which is in force initially until 2030. The Act gives municipalities the possibility to grant preferential treatment to electric vehicles – i.e. purely battery-driven vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles – particularly in terms of parking and the use of bus lanes. These privileges apply only to electric vehicles and to hybrid vehicles which can be externally charged, which meet the requirements of a minimum range of at least 40 km in purely electrical use, or maximum carbon dioxide emissions of 50 g/km (grams per kilometer) when in operation. Also, construction, rental and property law is to be adapted so as to facilitate and speed up the construction of charging infrastructure. (2)

The recent statistics from German’s market shows that the German plugin vehicle market scored 40,000 registrations in February 2021, with both technologies rising fast (+124% year over year for BEVs and +162% YoY for PHEVs). The February’s plugin share ended at 21% (9.4% BEV), dragging the yearly tally down slightly to 21% (9.5% BEV). Overall, this market is definitely in The Disruption Zone (aka two-digit market shares). And in a regressing market (-19% YoY), while petrol (-41% YoY) and diesel (-35%) are falling off a cliff, every electrified category is seeing growing sales. Not only are the aforementioned BEV and PHEV registrations surging, but even plug-less hybrids (HEV + MHEV) are growing, albeit at a slower pace (+42%). (2)

Moreover, in the brand ranking of current active companies in Germany, Volkswagen (19%) is clearly leading its home market, followed by Mercedes (10%) and BMW (9%), while #4 Audi (8%) is not far away. Further behind, #5 Renault and #6 Smart, both with 4% market share, seem unable to threaten the grip that the local heroes have on the German plugin market. Unsurprisingly, this positioning clearly mirrors the mainstream German market, where Volkswagen has a firm lead (20% share), followed by Mercedes (10%), BMW (9%), and Audi (8%). This is a trend that should become more visible as more and more plugin markets merge with the mainstream. EV sales trends will start to follow more mainstream tastes, changing according to each market’s preferences and making it harder for a given model to be #1 everywhere. (2)

In sum, total evaluation of the Germany’s operations in varied aspects in manufacturing and also extending EVs among users is so promising. However, it is necessary for the decision-makers to take this subject more seriously than before, and do their best in order to assist EVs technology in its challenging way to reach final goals of smart mobility in Germany.


(1) John Blau (2010-05-03). "Berlin plugs in electric mobility strategy"


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