Record after record for electric car premiums: Funding pot empty in less than a year?

With the increase in the German electric car purchase premium as part of a coronavirus economic stimulus package last June, the market gained tremendous momentum. This was already shown by the registration numbers of the most important manufacturers from Renault to VW to Tesla in 2020 and is now impressively confirmed by data from the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (Bafa) responsible for the payment. In December alone, the old environmental bonus plus a new innovation bonus, which has been in place since the summer, was applied for 58,365 times, again more often for pure electric cars than for plug-in hybrids. If it continues like this, the money will be exhausted well before the end of the term.

6000 euro state premium for electric cars

Since it was first introduced in 2016, when the then lower subsidy was only applied for a good 9,000 times, German car buyers have made use of the environmental bonus a total of 419,987 times, according to the new Bafa figures including 2020. During the entire period, these included 249,874 fully battery-operated vehicles, 169,933 plug-in hybrids and a modest 180 cars with fuel cells. And in 2020 there were a total of 255,039 more applications than in all previous years combined.

A graphic from Bafa on Twitter clearly shows that the German electric car market (not divided into pure and partial electricity cars) jumped to a new level in the past year. The monthly values ​​were usually higher from year to year, but starting with July 2020, six records were set in a row, and that in the last month with the highest absolute and relative growth. The increased premium (it is now up to 6,000 euros from the state plus 3,000 euros net from the manufacturer) should also contribute to this, as does the increasing availability of real electric cars on the German market.

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This became increasingly expensive for the state. In the years 2016 to 2019, a total of 204 million euros in environmental awards were enough, as the Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWi) announced on request. In 2020 alone, with 652 million euros, more than three times as much was paid out. And it should by no means contain all of the applications from last year, because it can take some time from the submission of the papers to the approval and especially the payment of the money. On Twitter, Bafa asked for your understanding that the transfer for “many” applications that have already been approved will only come in the next few days.

Funding pot could be exhausted in 2021

According to the BMWi, the extended purchase bonus and the corona surcharge should run from 2020 to 2025, and the total budget for this was initially 3.59 billion euros. At the auto summit in November 2020, an increase of up to 1 billion euros was also resolved, which makes a total of a maximum of 4.59 billion euros. After the 652 million euros paid out so far in 2020, a good 4 billion euros remain.

Rounded up to the last 60,000 applications per month and under the simplistic (but not unreasonable tendency) assumption that the premium is only paid for purely electric cars and at the full rate of 6,000 euros, this means: The money in the pot is only enough still for around 667,000 electric cars. If the December pace continues, funds will be completely exhausted before the end of this year. And even with the more cautious assumption that every second subsidized car remains a hybrid with a maximum of 4500 euros state premium, the money would only be enough for around 760,000 e-vehicles and thus hardly longer than the end of 2021. If the high German funding for electric cars is to continue as planned, the state will have to make another big step up.


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