Traffic light dispute paralyzes the expansion of electromobility

Traffic light dispute paralyzes the expansion of electromobility

Berlin What happened was what Green Environment Minister Steffi Lemke absolutely wanted to prevent: Germany appeared at the final deliberations for the EU Council of Ministers taking place this Tuesday without an opinion of his own.

The profile search of FDP plunged the coalition into its next crisis. As the saying goes, support Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) meanwhile FDP-Boss Lindner, while the Greens fumed. On the fringes of the coalition committee, it was agreed last Wednesday to put pressure on Brussels again to give combustion engines at least one more chance with synthetically produced fuels from green energies.

Chancellor Scholz wants to keep the coalition peace

Apparently, the chancellor also seems to approve of Lindner’s plans to stop subsidizing the purchase of electric cars sooner than planned. The Minister of Finance insists on complying with the debt brake again in 2023 and even ties it to the continued existence of the coalition, it said. It would be another affront to the Greens, this time against the responsible economics minister Robert Habeck. “It’s an overall package,” said the federal government. A package at the expense of the Greens.

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The dispute in Berlin also triggered a small earthquake in Europe. After the EU Commission presented its climate plans, including the end of combustion engines, and the European Parliament approved them, all that is missing is the green light from national governments. But because Germany is hesitating, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania are now also giving way. They revived an old suggestion on Friday. According to this, the end of the combustion engine will not come until 2040.


The votes of the five plus Germany are enough to bring down the combustion engine exit in 2035 and gain time. “We should give internal combustion engines a chance when it comes to regulation,” said Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) last week at an event organized by the Association of International Motor Vehicle Manufacturers in Berlin. They could show whether they can make a contribution to achieving the climate goals. “If it’s too expensive, we won’t face it. And if it can be designed efficiently, then every kilometer that can be driven in a climate-neutral manner is also a help.”

Until the weekend there was no agreement between the green-led departments and the FDP. In case of doubt, Germany will abstain on June 28, which is equivalent to a no.

The alternative for the purchase subsidy

Finance Minister Lindner will then present his draft budget for 2023 and the financial plan up to 2026 on Friday. What if there is no longer a subsidy pot for electric cars?

According to information from the Handelsblatt, the House of Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) is working on a bonus-malus system for motor vehicle tax. That could make the purchase premium superfluous and thus pacify Lindner, it said. The model is a long-cherished wish of environmental organizations. Cars with high emissions pay more tax, while electric cars even receive a subsidy.

For the Greens this would be a possible compromise. The question must be asked whether “direct state subsidies continue to make sense,” said economic policy spokesman Dieter Janecek.

“By taking greater account of CO2 emissions in vehicle tax, we should ensure that newly registered cars with low emissions are taxed better than newly registered cars with high emissions.” The system has “the advantage that it doesn’t affect the budget charged,” said Janecek. The disadvantage: the malus is a particular burden on the FDP’s clientele.

Habeck’s plan to let the “environmental bonus” only expire in 2025 would be invalid. Lindner points to the advantages that electric car owners are already enjoying. You pay no motor vehicle tax and only a quarter of the company car tax for combustion engines. In addition, with its immediate climate protection program, the coalition is planning a special depreciation of 50 percent in the first year for “exclusively fully electric vehicles and an extension to all electric company cars”. According to the draft, it should apply from 2023 to 2026. The federal cabinet wants to decide on the program on July 13.

In the search for a compromise, the chancellor’s party should also return SPD be decisive. The statement by party leader Lars Klingbeil on ZDF on Thursday that he wanted to phase out the e-car premium drew attention. “Now that’s good,” he said.

>> Read here: The electric car boom threatens to fail: “There is simply not enough lithium there”

The back and forth has long paralyzed sales of e-cars – especially since buyers can only apply for grants when they receive the vehicle, not when they order it. The delivery times are currently good and happy to be half a year. Germany is a long way from the goal of having at least 15 million fully electric cars on the market by 2030. According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, there were just 60,000 vehicles in the first five months.

Companies in particular play an important role in the purchase. In 2021, 44 percent of newly registered e-vehicles were leased, as the Federal Association of German Leasing Companies confirmed to the Handelsblatt. These should primarily drive with companies in the Dax and M-Dax, as a survey by the Agora Verkehrswende among them shows. “Measured against the total size of the fleets, the electrification rate is 20.8 percent,” says the study, which is available to the Handelsblatt. This is “significantly above the average for all commercial owners, which was 11.3 percent in Germany in the same period”.

Some of the companies surveyed want to quickly convert their fleet to fully electric. like that team viewer drive fully electric this year, the Allianz 2024, a year later Scout24. Plan for 2030 Lufthansa, Talanx, skinny, freenet, SAP and Siemens.

“There are pioneers that the others should now follow,” said Christian Hochfeld, director of the Agora Verkehrswende. Of the 70 companies asked, 27 participated. Hochfeld’s vote in view of the dispute within the coalition: since the lifetime costs of an electric car are even higher than for a combustion engine, the subsidy may decrease, but not end immediately. “We still need the bonus until a climate-friendly reform of the vehicle tax and the company car regulation replaces it. The most important thing is: “We need clarity.”

More: Premium chaos for e-cars: The transport minister should rely on other incentives

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