The anxious wait for the e-car

Changes in subsidies: The anxious wait for the e-car

Volkswagen employees assemble the body and powertrain of a VW ID.3 during a press tour of Volkswagen's Transparent Factory at the so-called wedding. Car buyers may currently have to wait a long time for a new car

Berlin Car buyers may currently have to wait a long time for a new car. For many who have ordered an electric vehicle, the waiting period could become very expensive, because the high federal subsidy is only guaranteed for 2022.

By Christoph Dernbach, dpa

It could be close: Many customers of Volkswagen, which these days the electric car ID.3 want to order will be promised "calendar week 49" or even later as a delivery date by their dealers.

The reason for the long delivery times is a combination of high demand and delivery problems, especially with semiconductors. However, it is not only VW that is unable to deliver e-cars in the desired quantities. Audi, BMW, Opel, Hyundai, Peugeot and Skoda are also making customers wait several months for certain models, even if cars are available at short notice from some dealers. Models such as the Octavia iV as a plug-in hybrid from Skoda are only available after well over a year. The situation is different at Tesla: While some of the Model S and X series will only be with customers after around twelve months, the Model Y is available at short notice.

Plug-in hybrids soon no longer subsidized

An excessively long delivery period is generally only annoying when buying a car with an internal combustion engine. If an e-car is to be purchased, the waiting time can be expensive under certain circumstances. This is due to a possible time limit for the lavish government subsidy that has been granted so far. For a fully electric vehicle with a net list price of up to 40.000 euros, the premium is currently around 9000 euros. Two thirds of this comes from the state, if the manufacturer puts the remaining third on the table as well. Plug-in hybrids are eligible for up to 6750 euros.

The old black-red federal government had decided in 2019 to extend and significantly increase the environmental bonus until the end of 2025. Because of the Corona pandemic, Black-Red had also decided in the summer of 2020 to double the state share for the promotion of electric vehicles in the form of an innovation premium for a limited period of time.

The traffic light coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP wants to continue the subsidy scheme of the previous government only until the end of 2022. What comes after that is uncertain. For some vehicle types, the subsidy could be significantly reduced or completely eliminated. In particular, the purchase of plug-in hybrids is not expected to receive such extensive subsidies in the foreseeable future.

Cars must have climate protection effect

Plug-in hybrids have an electric motor and a combustion engine, but unlike simple hybrids, they can also be charged at a charging station. However, this class of vehicle has a bad reputation among environmentalists because many buyers collect the electric premium but in everyday life do not drive electrically at all or only rarely without CO2 emissions.

After 2022, the traffic light coalition only wants to promote electric vehicles that have a proven climate protection effect. The benchmark for plug-in hybrids is to be a minimum electric range and the proportion of time the car is driven purely electrically.

The statement in the coalition agreement does not mean a complete rejection of government subsidies. The end of the innovation premium for e-cars is therefore not planned until the end of 2025. What will become of the original environmental bonus has not yet been decided. But the words "degressive reform" are not a rosy outlook for potential buyers, even those who want to purchase an e-only vehicle.

ADAC for reservation of the funding amount

Therefore, it is important for them to order not only this year yet. For the subsidy application at the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (Bafa), the car must also be delivered and registered. And with only 52 weeks in the year, that could be tight with a delivery date in "calendar week 49" or later.

In view of long delivery times, the ADAC is calling for changes to the application modalities for the innovation and environmental bonus. "Anyone who decides to switch to electromobility this year should be sure to receive the government subsidy of up to 6,000 euros that has been promised for this year," said ADAC traffic president Gerhard Hillebrand.

The club is campaigning for an option to reserve the subsidy when a purchase or leasing contract is signed. "This commitment should be valid for at least 12 months." Payment should continue to be made only when the vehicle is registered." This is the only way to avoid uncertainty among e-car prospects and build necessary confidence."

Turnaround in semiconductor shortage not until next year

Strong demand exacerbates the situation. At the beginning of the Corona crisis, the major car manufacturers assumed that sales would be flat and canceled large chip orders with semiconductor producers. When the car market picked up surprisingly quickly, the freed-up capacity had long since been allocated to other industries. Since then, the semiconductor shortage has repeatedly brought production lines in car factories to a standstill. Experts don’t expect a turnaround until 2023.

In the house of Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) is working on details of future funding. The surprise halt to government subsidies for energy-efficient buildings has shown that the vice chancellor is also resorting to unpopular cuts.

Peter Fub from the consulting firm EY believes that the coalition will not pull the subsidy plug prematurely: "I assume that the federal government will continue to support the purchase of an e-car beyond 2025."Without these subsidies it will not be financially feasible for many people to buy an e-car.

But to achieve the goals of the announced "green deal," it’s not just car sales that matter, Fub said. "After all, the industry is basically ready to deliver and is in the fast lane. Only politics is still moving in the slow lane when it comes to the necessary expansion of the charging infrastructure."Electromobility cannot be driven forward by vehicle subsidies alone," he said. The expansion of the charging infrastructure must also be accelerated significantly.

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