28 Apr 2016, 00:00
Julian Wettengel

Reactions to government decision on e-car subsidies

The German government has decided to spend one billion euros to boost e-mobility, with the car industry contributing another 600 million euros. Starting in mid-May, buyers of pure e-cars will receive a premium of 4,000 euros, among other measures. CLEW presents a brief summary of reactions to the agreement.

Read more about the government's plans to subsidise e-mobility in a CLEW article here.

Find more background on the Energiewende in transportation in a CLEW dossier here.


Reactions from politicians, civil society and industry associations:

Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV)

“Few profit, all pay”

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV) said it agreed with the overall goal of developing e-mobility by investing in the infrastructure. But it criticised that a buyer’s premium would benefit relatively wealthy people who could afford quite expensive electric cars, whereas all taxpayers would have to finance it. VZBV executive director Klaus Müller also warned of the danger that auto makers discard their otherwise regular discounts, and replace them with their share of the subsidy.

Read the press release in German here.


German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA)

“Quick implementation of measures to kick-start the market”

The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) welcomed all aspects of the government plans. President Matthias Wissmann pointed out the need to kick-start the e-car sector and mentioned the success in other countries: “E-mobility grows faster in countries where the government provides the impetus.” Germany is one of the leading makers of e-cars, but has a long way to go to be the leading market, said Wissmann.

Read the press release in German here.


German taxpayers association (BdSt)

“Waste of tax money”

Reiner Holznagel, president of the German taxpayers association (BdSt), said e-mobility was already robustly subsidised with tax exemptions and research grants. “In my view, it’s a waste of tax money to now even supply a buyer’s premium,” said Holznagel.

Find the comments in German here.


German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH)

“Buyer’s premium for electric vehicles is the wrong approach”

The general secretary of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH), Holger Schwannecke, said that e-car models are not yet economically viable and do not meet mobility demands in all categories. “There is still a great need for development and action, especially concerning storage technology and charging infrastructure. These two bottleneck factors cannot be bridged by a buyer’s premium for electric vehicles."

Read the press release in German here.



“Bosch welcomes the measures to promote electromobility”

Automotive supplier Bosch welcomes the subsidy plans. Board chairman Volkmar Denner said that electric cars must also become part of the market for used-vehicles. Government grants in particular could contribute to the creation of a second-hand market by facilitating the gradual replacement of entire fleets with electric vehicles.

Read the press release in English here.


German Energy Agency (dena)

“Innovative companies are key to the energy transition in the transport sector”

German Energy Agency (dena) chairman, Andreas Kuhlmann, welcomed the government’s decision, saying it “straightens things out for everyone – politics, industry, trade and customers”. He added that innovative companies are key to the energy transition in the transport sector.

Read the press release in German here.


Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND)

“Climate and environmentally friendly mobility must be supported – not the purchase of e-cars”

Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) president Hubert Weiger objected to the government proposal. He said it was important to put more emphasis on energy efficiency and to take into account the kind of electricity used to power the cars. Otherwise, the plan would not “achieve effects that protect the environment or the climate”.

Read the press release in German here.


German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW)

“Important impetus for electric mobility”

The German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) said development of publicly accessible charging station infrastructure was crucial for the success of e-mobility. In a press release, managing director Martin Weyand welcomed the current plans, but called for longer-term development beyond 2020.

Read the press release in German here.


Green Party

“The buyer’s premium is nothing but patchwork”

The Green Party’s representative in the Bundestag, Anton Hofreiter, criticised the government proposal as a half-hearted attempt at an energy transition for the transport sector, shouldered by the public. He called for more holistic reforms. “What would be right: If the owners of big and expensive fuel guzzlers paid. We urgently need to reform vehicle tax. […] We need a strategy where we can embed the buyer’s premium – the switch to e-cars – in a stronger expansion of public transport.”


Media commentary:

die tageszeitung

“Reward for Dieselgate”

Manfred Kriener criticises the e-mobility support plans in die tageszeitung and calls the federal government the “bedside rug of the auto companies”. “The biggest punchline in this game is that this guild receives buyer’s premiums as a reward at exactly the time when it stands as a criminal association that intentionally and on a large scale deceived customers, the administration and the public for years and smoked out the environment and the climate.”

Read the opinion piece in German here.


Handelsblatt Global Edition

“Electric car subsidies are not the answer”

“Electric car subsidies are not the answer”, writes Daniel Delhaes in Handelsblatt Global Edition and calls for other investments: “Above all, the state has to support what is sustainably beneficial for society, even if a product fails: research and development of technology – not sales statistics.”

Read the opinion piece in Handelsblatt here.


Berliner Zeitung

“Subsidies also for fuel guzzlers”

The subsidies will not only be used to finance e-mobility, as most of the total sum of 1.2 billion euros for buyer's premiums will probably be spent on plug-in e-cars, writes Frank-Thomas Wenzel in an opinion piece in Berliner Zeitung. “These are mostly highly-motorised models that easily consume ten litres or more per 100 kilometres on the Autobahn.” 


Frankfurter Rundschau

“Manufacturers of company car fleets can be pleased”

Car manufacturers will hardly notice paying their share of the buyer’s premium for new electric cars, as no customer pays the full list price anyway, writes Frankfurter Rundschau. This was particularly true “because the plug-in cars are very expensive anyway and yield large margins”.

Read the article in German here.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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