Electric mobility and charging infrastructure; Source: picture alliance/dpa

© picture alliance/dpa

The future of mobility will be electric. In order to speed up developments on the market for electric mobility, the German government is investing €1bn as part of a package of measures:

  • A purchase grant, known as the environmental bonus, will be paid towards new vehicles. For electric-only cars, €4,000 will be paid, with €3,000 available for plug-in hybrids. The grant will be paid towards purchases of cars with a list price of up to €60,000. The total funding is limited to €1.2bn. The Federal Government and the automotive industry will each cover half of the costs. The funding from the Federal Government will be disbursed if the manufacturer also provides a grant.
  • Answers (in German) to frequently asked questions can be found here.
  • The Federal Government is providing €300m towards expanding the charging infrastructure. €200m is available for rapid charging infrastructure, and €100m for normal charging.
  • The aim continues to be that at least 20% of the Federation's vehicle fleet should consist of electric vehicles. €100m has been earmarked for this.
  • If employees recharge their vehicles at their place of employment, this will no longer be deemed a taxable benefit in kind.

On 16 June 2016, European Commission confirmed that the environmental bonus poses no state aid issues and can be fully implemented. It entered into force on the day following its notification in the Federal Gazette. Applications can be submitted online to the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control.

The package of measures adopted on 18 May 2016 continues the German government's efforts to press ahead with electric mobility. The basis for this is the Government Programme for Electric Mobility. The government is assisted by the Joint Unit for Electric Mobility and the National Platform on Electric Mobility.

Detailed information about energy-efficient mobility and the funding available can also be found (in German) at www.machts-effizient.de or by calling 0800 0115 000.

The new package builds on wide-ranging measures which have been implemented since 2009:

Research and development

The Federal Government is providing €2.2bn for research and development into electric mobility, and has also launched the unique programme called "Electric Mobility Showcases" to promote cutting-edge achievements in electric mobility.

Uniform charging standards for electric cars

If optimal use is to be made of electric mobility, it is important to agree on uniform standards. For this reason, the German government has enacted the Charging Station Ordinance, which entered into force on 17 March 2016. The ordinance contains clear and binding rules on socket standards and minimum requirements for the establishment and operation of publicly accessible charging stations for electric vehicles. All the new publicly accessible charging stations must comply with the European socket standard as a minimum. Existing, unaltered charging stations are not subject to this obligation.

The ordinance stipulates that operators of publicly accessible charging stations must inform the Federal Network Agency when they are installed and come on stream. Also, according to the draft ordinance, operators must provide regular evidence to the Federal Network Agency that rapid charging stations are compliant with the technical requirements.

The adoption of the Charging Station Ordinance means that Germany is the first EU Member State to implement the EU Directive (2014/94/EU) in national law. The EU Directive regulates the establishment of the infrastructure for alternative fuels. In particular, it puts binding rules in place to harmonise socket standards for publicly accessible charging stations. This harmonisation gives investors a secure basis on which to build up the charging infrastructure.

Other regulations governing the charging infrastructure

The 2011 Energy Industry Act brought in some essential changes, creating a legal basis for smart grids, in terms of energy law, data protection, and data security. The Act was later amended to incorporate Section 14 a (1), which provides the basis upon which the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will be enacting an ordinance setting out detailed rules for a possible reduction of grid fees in cases where electric vehicles are being used in a way that contributes to grid stability. This means that charging electric vehicles could become cheaper.

The categorisation in the Electricity Market Act of the charging stations for electric vehicles as end-users will significantly improve the policy environment for the establishment of a needs-oriented charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and ensure legal certainty for investment. In this way, investors from all sectors, and with many different motivations, will contribute towards the installation of charging facilities. The result is fair competition between investors from various sectors. Charging stations are not subject to the strict grid operation rules, and this will prevent the formation of a monopoly over the operation of the charging stations. The obligations of the charging infrastructure operators under energy legislation will be restricted to the necessary minimum.

Public procurement initiative for electric vehicles

Public procurement being an important tool when it comes to fostering the market launch of electric vehicles, at least 20% of the Federation's vehicle fleet is to consist of electric vehicles in future. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has already achieved this target (20.83% of its vehicles were electric in May 2016). A new group of experts on electric mobility has been set up as part of the alliance for sustainable procurement. The procurement guidelines drawn up by this group offer important help to officials responsible for purchasing e-vehicles. The new package of measures is now providing €100m towards the attainment of the existing goal.

Taxation of company cars

Company car fleets are an important potential market segment for electric vehicles. To ensure that the continuing high level of prices for electric and hybrid vehicles compared with conventional vehicles is not a deterrent to procurement, the rules on the private use of these cars are being improved. According to the legislation adopted by the Bundestag, the plan is that, when the pecuniary advantage of staff cars is taxed, the higher list price of e-vehicles in comparison with cars with internal combustion engines is to be offset by the price of the battery. This should ensure that electric and hybrid electric vehicles are not subject to disadvantages in terms of income tax.

Exemption from motor vehicle tax

On 25 October 2012, the German Bundestag passed a Transaction Tax Amendment Act. There are plans to extend the exemption from the motor vehicle tax which applies to non-hybrid electric cars registered for the first time no later than on 31 December 2015 from currently five years to ten years and to also include all other classes of non-hybrid electric vehicles. A five-year exemption from the motor vehicle tax will be granted for these types of vehicles which are newly-registered between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2020. The new package of measures also means that the electricity provided by the employer to recharge electric vehicles will not represent a taxable pecuniary advantage for the staff.

Electric Mobility Act: creating more privileges for electric vehicles

In the first quarter of 2015, the Federal Cabinet adopted the Electric Mobility Act, which assigns a label and privileges to electric cars on Germany's roads. The Act is intended to give municipalities the possibility to grant preferential treatment to electric vehicles - i.e. purely battery-driven vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles - particularly in terms of parking and the use of bus lanes. These privileges apply only to electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles which can be externally charged, which meet the requirements of a minimum range of at least 40 km in purely electrical use, or maximum carbon dioxide emissions of 50 g/km when in operation. The relevant vehicles must be marked accordingly.

The main contents of the act:

  • definition of the electric vehicles to which the privileges are to apply,
  • labelling via the number plate,
  • parking rules,
  • use of bus lanes,
  • revocation of access prohibitions.

The Electric Mobility Act entered into force in the first quarter of 2015, and is to remain in force until 30 June 2030.

Also, construction, rental and property law is to be adapted so as to facilitate and speed up the construction of charging infrastructure.