A charging station for electric vehicles; Source: picture alliance/dpa

© picture alliance/dpa

The future of mobility will be electric. Electric mobility is an important element of a climate-friendly energy and transport policy. In the context of the National Development Plan for Electric Mobility, the Federal Government is planning to establish Germany as a lead market with at least a million vehicles by 2020.

Germany is, of course, strong in exports and wants to maintain its position as a world leader on electric mobility and exporter of highly innovative products in this field. In order to speed up developments on the market for electric mobility, the Federal Government adopted a package of measures on 18 May 2016 containing investment of close to a billion euros. Part of the basis for this is the Government Programme for Electric Mobility (in German) (PDF, 304 KB). The government is assisted by the National Platform on Electric Mobility.

The focus in the market incentive package is on three measures with a financial impact: temporary purchase incentives, the expansion of the charging infrastructure, and the purchase of electric vehicles by public authorities.

  • A purchase grant, known as the environmental bonus, is paid towards new vehicles – €4,000 for non-hybrid electric cars, and €3,000 for plug-in hybrids. The grant is paid towards purchases of cars with a list price of up to €60,000. The total funding is limited to €1.2 billion. 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. As from 2 July 2016, car buyers have been able to submit applications for the environmental bonus to the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA; in German), which also provides information by phone (06196 908-1009). Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.
  • The Federal Government is providing €300 million towards expanding the charging infrastructure. €200 million is available for rapid charging infrastructure, and €100 million for normal charging.
  • The aim continues to be that at least 20% of the Federation’s vehicle fleet should consist of electric vehicles. If employees recharge their vehicles at their place of employment, this will no longer be deemed a taxable benefit in kind.

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

Comprehensive support for electric mobility: further measures for electric mobility

The new package builds on wide-ranging measures which have been implemented since 2009 and which establish the necessary regulatory environment in which electric mobility can thrive. The measures include uniform charging standards and privileges for electric car owners, e.g. special parking arrangements.

Establishing uniform charging and payment standards

Optimum use of electric mobility requires uniform charging and payment standards. For this reason, the German government has enacted the Charging Station Ordinance, which entered into force on 17 March 2016. The adoption of the Charging Station Ordinance means that Germany has implemented the EU Directive (2014/94/EU) in national law; this 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, thus giving investors greater certainty as they build their charging infrastructure.

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. Operators of publicly accessible charging stations must inform the Federal Network Agency when they are installed and come on stream, and must provide regular evidence that rapid charging stations are compliant with the technical requirements.

The latest survey by the German Association for Energy and Water Management (BDEW) shows that progress is being made on the rollout of charging infrastructure. At the end of 2016, a total of 7,407 publicly accessible charging points (3,206 charging stations) were available. This means that nearly 900 new charging points were added in the second half of 2016, an increase of more than 11%. 292 of these are fast DC charging points, representing a rise of more than 20% in the same period.

The next step will be to harmonise authentication and payment at charging stations. Minimum payment standards are to ensure non-discriminatory access to charging facilities. On 12 May 2017, the Bundesrat approved the Ordinance amending Charging Station Ordinance II (in German) (PDF, 35 KB)of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The new rules cover ad-hoc charging, abolishing the need to participate in an electricity supplier’s in-house invoicing system. As a result, users of electric vehicles will be able to charge their vehicles and pay for the electricity at all publicly accessible charging stations using a common web-based payment system (e.g. an app), or (if available) in cash or by EC or credit card.

Strengthening legal certainty and security of investment

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. In the context of the revision of the Energy Industry Act (in German), preconditions were put in place for grid charges to be reduced where electric vehicles are used to support the grid, thus making it possible to cut the cost of charging.

The categorisation in the Electricity Market Act of the charging stations for electric vehicles as end-users significantly improves the policy environment for the establishment of a needs-oriented charging infrastructure and ensures legal certainty for investment. In this way, investors from all sectors, and with many different motivations, will contribute towards the installation of charging facilities in the context of fair competition. Charging stations are not subject to the strict grid operation rules, and the formation of a monopoly over the operation of the charging stations will be prevented. 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 (33.33% of its vehicles were electric in February 2018). A new group of experts on electric mobility has been set up as part of the alliance for sustainable procurement. The procurement guidelines (in German) drawn up by this group offer important help to officials responsible for purchasing e-vehicles.

Tax exemption for the charging of electric vehicles

The Bundestag adopted an act on 7 November 2016 with the approval of the Bundesrat according to which advantages granted by an employer in the form of the charging up of electric or hybrid electric vehicles are exempted from income tax. Tax breaks are also granted towards the charging devices transferred to the employee free of charge or at a reduced price, and for grants to use these charging devices. These tax rules support the Federal Government’s market incentive package to promote electric mobility in road transport. The arrangements are temporary and apply from 1 January 2017 until 31 December 2020.

Exemption from motor vehicle tax

On 25 October 2012, the German Bundestag passed a Transaction Tax Amendment Act (in German). Subsequently, 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 was extended from five years to ten years and now covers all classes of non-hybrid electric vehicles.

Since the exemption from the motor vehicle tax which had been extended to last ten years expired on 31 December 2015, the Bundestag has adopted a renewed extension of the tax exemption backdated until 1 January 2016. A ten-year exemption from the motor vehicle tax is granted for these types of vehicles which are newly registered between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2020. Also, the ten-year tax exemption for non-hybrid electric vehicles is extended to cover technically appropriate retrofitting of vehicles to become non-hybrid electric vehicles, as long as this is authorised under traffic legislation.

Electric Mobility Act: creating more privileges for electric vehicles

In the first quarter of 2015, the Federal Cabinet adopted the Electric Mobility Act (in German), which assigns a label and privileges to electric cars on Germany’s roads, and which is in force initially until 2030. The Act gives 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 to 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/kmGrams per kilometer when in operation. Also, construction, rental and property law is to be adapted so as to facilitate and speed up the construction of charging infrastructure.

Research and development

Up to 2017, the Federal Government has provided €2.2 billion for research and development into electric mobility in order to support the generation of technological innovations from technology-neutral R&D programmes. For example, the unique Electric Mobility Showcases programme has been launched, and innovative developments in the field of electric mobility have been tested and demonstrated. For further information, please click here.