Environmental groups are up in arms against plans by Federal Minister of Economics Volker Wissing (FDP) to further expand purchase premiums for electric cars.

"These plans are absurd," complained the national director of the German Environmental Aid (DUH) Jürgen Resch.

"While BMW, Mercedes and VW were able to report an all-time record profit of 41 billion euros last year thanks to the generous subsidies from the federal government, another 73 billion euros in scrapping and purchase premiums are to follow by 2027." million tons of CO2 are saved each year.

The traffic expert from the environmental organization Greenpeace, Tobias Austrupp, argued in a similar way: "Volker Wissing's proposals are a ridiculously expensive gift to the car industry - they do next to nothing for climate protection."

Corinna Budras

Business correspondent in Berlin.

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Julia Loehr

Business correspondent in Berlin.

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The protest was sparked by a report in the “Handelsblatt”, which quoted from a government report.

Wissing then proposes extending the purchase premium for pure electric cars until 2027 and increasing it significantly in order to be able to meet the statutory climate targets again in the future.

For vehicles up to 40,000 euros, the state bonus should be increased from 6,000 euros to 10,800 euros.

In addition, there is a manufacturer subsidy of 3000 euros.

For more expensive e-cars up to 60,000 euros, the premium should also increase.

The plans should be part of an extensive emergency program that Wissing has to launch after the transport sector broke the legal climate protection goals last year.

A ministry spokeswoman pointed out that these are only "options" for how climate protection can be pursued while avoiding bans and increases in taxes and duties.

"None of these measures have currently been decided, nor is it clear whether the federal government will adopt them."

Quarrel with Habeck?

In particular, with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) of Robert Habeck (Greens), the need for coordination is likely to be great.

Because Wissing's proposals are pretty much exactly the opposite of what the ministry had proposed in mid-April.

Accordingly, the purchase premiums for electric cars should fall faster than provided for in the coalition agreement.

Specifically, the draft regulation of the BMWK provides that the subsidies for plug-in hybrids - vehicles with electric and combustion engines - should expire on December 31, 2022.

As far as the subsidy rates for purely electric vehicles are concerned, the Ministry of Economic Affairs wants them to gradually decrease from next year.

According to the plans, the federal share should still be 4,000 euros in 2023, and 3,000 euros in 2024 and 2025.

Formally, the Ministry of Habeck is responsible for the purchase premiums for electric cars within the federal government.

Its declared goal is not to reward any purchasing decisions with subsidies that would probably be made without the state subsidies.

Nevertheless, a spokeswoman for Habeck refrained from criticizing Wissing's proposals on Monday.

Because the Ministry of Economics is currently working on an immediate climate protection program that is intended to noticeably reduce CO2 emissions.

According to figures from the Federal Environment Agency, in 2021 both the transport and building sectors have exceeded their statutory savings targets.

In concrete terms, this means that the vehicles in Germany emitted a total of around 148 million tons of the climate-damaging greenhouse gas CO₂ - and thus 3 million tons more than planned.

All ministries are now called upon to make suggestions from their area as to how emissions can be reduced.

"If gaps remain, it is clear that further measures must then be taken in the respective sector," said a spokeswoman for Habeck.

There is a need to catch up “in all fields”.

This can be understood in such a way that the Ministry of Economics is not completely against an extension of the purchase premiums - if they demonstrably contribute to the big picture,

compliance with climate targets.

The said emergency program should be united in the cabinet by the summer break.

In the event that this plan is actually implemented, the DUH has already announced legal action: A lawsuit is already pending before the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court, which could be expanded.

The environmental organizations emphasized that there are a number of effective instruments, such as a speed limit, to finally steer traffic on the climate course.

Climate Minister Habeck, his Greens and the SPD should reject Wissing's "expensive bonus fireworks" and demand a serious emergency program, Greenpeace demanded.