There is a quiet revolution on European largest car market. Most people believe that the Germans will be among the last to change their cars Porsche 911 or the Mercedes-Benz S class for the limited models of the American electric car Tesla. As a result of new refueling places and better products, however, this year Germany is about to become the world’s third-largest market for plug-in hybrids and electric cars, overtaking the long-standing European leader Norway. The fall of diesel cars after the Volkswagen emissions scandal and the increasing public response to urban pollution have further reinforced this change.
Behind this, there is a network for charging electric cars, which is growing faster to make it five times thicker than that of American roads. The number of stations jumped by 35% last year to 8,515.
Even automakers, which for years have claimed to build cars rather than infrastructure, are included as part of their 40 billion USD projects earmarked for electrical technology over the next few years. Long-time rivals VW, BMW AG, Ford Motor and Daimler have joined forces and started building a fast-charging network on European highways. The unprecedented Alliance plans 100 stations by the end of this year before raising them fourfold by the end of the decade.
The German government has also stepped up measures after disappointing sales forced Chancellor Angela Merkel to abandon its earlier target on to have 1 million electric cars on the roads by 2020. Since 2016, the buyers of electric cars get a discount of to 4,000 EUR, and the owners of the plug-in hybrids – a subsidy of 3,000 EUR. In addition, there is a budget of 300 million EUR for the construction of refueling infrastructure, and further measures are planned.
That’s why the market has reacted. The sales of plug-in hybrids and electric cars are expected to jump 64% this year to 82,000 units, according to BNEF forecasts, which will make Germany the fastest-growing region among the top five in the markets. BNEF says the forecast may even be conservative and that supplies can easily double this year.
The American Tesla is growing even faster in Germany than the sales of electric cars in general. The registrations of new Tesla cars jumped by 75% last year to 3,332 vehicles, compared to Porsche Panamera sales of 3,900 vehicles, which is a strong competitor of Tesla Model S.
Even with this significant increase, however, electric cars remain a very small part of total sales in Germany last year, which totals at 3.4 million vehicles. The new models, however, quickly find their place in the exhibition halls across the country, and this may soon change their status as a whole.
This year’s electric cars include the SUV crossover Jaguar I-Pace, and the SUV Audi Q6. BMW will present Mini on batteries next year, along with a Mercedes-Benz SUV as part of its EQ brand. Volkswagen plans all-electric crossover model I.D. Crozz and hatchback I.D. Neo in 2020.