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E-cars: Little progress has been made recently

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / dpa

Electric cars are expected to play an important role in achieving climate targets in transport – but they are often even more expensive to purchase than combustion engines. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) is also counting on a "company car effect" in order to get more used electric cars with lower purchase prices. At the moment, the used car market for electric vehicles is mainly fed by the company car market," Wissing told the German Press Agency.

These fleets are renewing themselves more quickly, creating a used car market. "We're not talking about big limousines, as many people think. The classic company car is a standard vehicle.«

The average price for new electric cars is currently more than 40,000 euros, Wissing said. There is still not a sufficient supply of used cars. "But we have to answer the question, how, for example, do the nurse in the countryside get to the hospital at flexible times?" said Wissing. "I can't tell people to buy an electric car for 40,000 euros. Or: Take the bus if there are only thinned-out timetables.«

Company car regulations have always been an opportunity to bring modern vehicles to market quickly, said the minister. The fact that the used car market for e-vehicles is currently primarily fed by the company car market "should also be borne in mind by those who, on the one hand, want to promote climate protection through electromobility and, on the other hand, demand that we abolish company cars". Wissing is thus targeting demands to abolish tax breaks for company cars.

However, the used car market with pure electric cars has hardly made any progress in Germany recently. In the first half of the year, they accounted for only 1.25 percent of ownership transfers – this was even a minimal decline compared to the same period last year. The main reason is that there are simply not enough older electric vehicles in the vehicle fleet.

It will be some time before this changes. Thomas Peckruhn, Vice President of the Central Association of the German Motor Vehicle Trade (ZDK), expects a larger supply of used electric vehicles from 2024 or 2025, when the leasing returns of recent years come onto the market. So far, pure electric cars have been sold to private individuals more often than average. However, this also slows down their arrival in the second-hand market, because private customers keep their vehicles longer on average.

Openness to technology for the climate

In the first half of this year, pure electric vehicles were more popular with private customers, with a share of 20.3 percent of new registrations, than with companies, where they accounted for 13.6 percent, according to figures from the Federal Motor Transport Authority. Even if car dealerships, rental companies and car manufacturers are excluded, the proportion of electric cars among new company cars still lags significantly behind private cars at 17.7 percent.

According to a recent survey of company car drivers by market observer DAT, pure electric vehicles account for only six percent of company fleets. For as many as 19 percent of company car drivers, however, they are the most likely choice for their next vehicle – partly because of tax advantages. But even that would be even less than with private cars.

With a view to the transition to new, climate-friendly drives, Transport Minister Wissing emphasized: "We are faced with the question of how individual transport can be made affordable for everyone in the future." That's why he advocates "openness to technology." Also because we see that e-vehicles are currently unattainable for many in terms of price."

Specifically, Wissing is also campaigning for climate-neutral artificial fuels based on electricity (e-fuels). At present, they are still a long way from mass deployment.