Though the German auto industry has been fairly quick to embrace plug-in hybrid and electric cars, incentives from the government have been few and far between. Bloomberg reports that a new bill in the German parliament will change that by allowing EV, hydrogen, and certain plug-in hybrid car drivers access to free parking and bus-only lanes lanes.
By the end of this year, 17 different plug-in cars will be available from German automakers, but the country still doesn’t offer any direct financial aid to buyers. Instead it offers tax breaks for use of plug-in company cars (which are treated as taxable income in Germany) and has provided funding to battery technology research. Unfortunately this hasn’t translated successfully into higher EV sales, and the goal to put 1 million plug-in cars on German streets by 2020 is off to a slow start.
Let me put this in perspective for a minute. Buyers in Norway took delivery of 1,497 plug-in cars in July of 2014, compared with just 1,057 plug-in cars in Germany. Yet in 2013 there were over 2,952,000 new car registrations in Germany, while Norway saw a little over 142,000 new car sales, 5% of what was one of the worst years for car sales in Europe. Through August, German EV sales outpaced Norway by a mere 9 vehicles. Giving EV buyers access to bus lanes and free parking is a nice perk, sure, but Norway has seen greater success by discounting the heavy-handed taxes it levies in combustion engines.
Germany is the heart of European car production, and if it really wants to lead the Old World in EV adoption, it’ll have try harder than sacrificing a few euros from street parking.