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Germany won’t meet 1 million EV target

2020 goal to have 1 million EVs on the road now appears remote, Angela Merkel suggests

Despite an ambitious incentive programme and being home to some of the world’s most famous automakers, Germany’s plans to have 1 million “electrified” vehicles on the road by 2020 now look increasingly remote.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is sceptical that the target is out of reach. “The way it’s looking at the moment, we won’t meet that target,” she reportedly said during a parliamentary event in Berlin. “But we also know from smartphones and similar things that the adoption of technological developments can suddenly take off exponentially.”

That is not to say that Germany’s performance has been bad. April 2017 saw 1,413 EVs registered, following 2,191 in March, according to the Kraftfahrt-Bundesant (KBA). So far, this year has seen a total of 6,473 EVs registered (pdf), as well as 23,632 hybrids, which Germany also counts towards its 1 million target.

However, even with 200,000 sold in total last year, electrified models still made up around 0.5% of the 46 million new cars registered in Germany. Last year, ElecTrans noted that EVs in Germany would need to see a CAGR of around 140% to reach 1 million vehicles in the five years between 2016 and 2020.

That is also despite some generous incentives launched last year. Buyers of fully-electric vehicles can claim back up to 4,000 euros, while hybrid owners would be eligible for rebates of up to 3,000 euros. The three-year plan, launched in May 2016, also includes making 100 million euros available to help local authorities purchase EVs, as well as 300 million euros to establish 15,000 charging stations across the country.

Part of the problem is that Merkel’s target, first set in 2011, is largely symbolic. While Germany has other EU-led targets for decarbonisation and transport emissions, this is not linked directly to the 1 million figure.

Another is that the pace of automakers to adapt to the change in markets has been slower than many might have liked. Germany’s automakers are certainly investing – 9 billion euros in the case of Volkswagen, and 10 billion at Daimler – but many still say that their affordable EVs with 300 miles of range will not arrive until 2019 or later.

German firms are still some of the best at EV development, meaning the country has a better chance than many at seeing rapid adoption. For now though, even for EV optimists 1 million EVs seems a case of too much, too soon.


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