For most people, a new e-car is still a substantial investment. So when will electric cars be available at a bargain price? That’s likely to take quite a while. After all, government and car manufacturers are subsidizing new purchases with considerable sums. In its Climate Protection Plan 2050, Germany has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector by around 40 percent by 2030. To achieve this, it focuses on the electrification of road transport. So far, at least, the public has responded well to the funding concept. According to the German Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA), which is responsible for subsidies, 336,002 battery-electric vehicles have been subsidized since the funding start in 2016 up to May of this year, including around 80,000 in the first quarter alone. Both the federal government and car manufacturers pay into the funding pot – buyers receive up to 9,000 euros per vehicle.
The federal government’s share is exactly 6,000 euros for vehicles with a net list price below 40,000 euros, and 5,000 euros for vehicles above that. If the net list price of the base model in Germany is over 65,000 euros, the government no longer subsidizes. The subsidy is limited until 2025 and applies to new cars registered after June 3, 2020. The car manufacturers, in turn, generally contribute up to 3,000 euros per car sold, with manufacturers such as Hyundai and Renault even increasing their share by up to 2,000 euros for individual models. In addition, the Motor Vehicle Tax Act continues to exempt pure e-cars from taxation – all vehicles registered for the first time by December 31, 2025, will be eligible for the tax exemption. However, the original ten-year exemption period is now limited to December 31, 2030, so the bottom line is that it might be worth considering the purchase of an e-car sooner rather than later.
Will infrastructure remain the Achilles’ heel of electromobility?
For the time being, infrastructure remains electromobility’s Achilles’ heel. On the one hand, expansion is progressing well because more and more car manufacturers, electricity suppliers, petroleum companies, and service providers are investing in the charging network. The Federal Network Agency currently lists 2,362 charging point operators with publicly accessible charging points in Germany, with the 100 largest collectively operating about two-thirds of the reported charging infrastructure (as of February 2021). In April, energy provider EnBW announced the commissioning of a public charging park with high-capacity columns at the Kamener Kreuz interchange in North Rhine-Westphalia by the end of the year. With 52 charging points, it’s set to become the largest facility of its kind in Europe. On the other hand, the large number of connection options sometimes causes frustration at the charging station when it comes to paying.
Paying by charging card works best in the roaming system
Many operators hide the cost of recharging – you only discover the price per kilowatt hour via their app or website. Some operators are also cooking up their own thing with regards to payment methods. As a rule, electric vehicle users must first register to use an app or charging card. But there are also providers who only make these tools available to their own electricity customers or for a monthly fee. It’s not necessarily a disadvantage for users that the range of charging cards with local operators is limited. Frequently, charging station operators join forces for roaming, where everyone accepts the respective roaming partner’s charging card. Roaming alliances such as Plugsurfing and Hubject are particularly well positioned, providing comprehensive access to national and international charging infrastructure via app, charging card, or charging key.
Exactly how digital should spontaneous charging at charging stations be?
Plug & Charge is still in its infancy in this country
In fact, a genuinely digital solution would perhaps have to offer even more convenience – for example, by simply driving up to the charging station, plugging in the charging plug, and refueling, while payment is automatically processed in the background. The idea behind this isn’t entirely new – it’s called Plug & Charge and is based on technology for automated communication between vehicle and charging station. The electric car identifies itself to the charging station the moment the plug is connected. In Germany, Plug & Charge is still in its infancy – partly because equipping charging stations with the necessary hardware is very expensive. Tesla’s Superchargers demonstrate that the exchange of data via plugs does work. Dutch charging provider Fastned also has its own solution for fast chargers, called Autocharge, which transmit the vehicle’s unique identification code to the charging station via the CCS connection.