China Urges Germany to Adopt E-Car Incentives to Boost Sales

  • Financial incentives push down technology costs, minister says
  • German all-electric and hybrid vehicle sales remain low

China’s top technology official told German ministers Tuesday in Berlin that they need to provide drivers with incentives to buy electric cars if they want to meet the country’s ambitious targets.

Financial enticements catapulted sales of plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles in China over the last two years, said the country’s Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang, who met government ministers today in the German capital. China’s direct financial support for purchases of private and commercial electric vehicles, introduced from 2012, helped bring sales “into gear,” Wan said.

“Incentives are very important for research and development and that creates market maturity very quickly,” Wan told auto executives in a speech on Tuesday at Berlin’s Federal Transport Ministry. Sales of battery plug-in and hybrid vehicles more than tripled since 2014 to about 330,000, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Germany has dithered over plans to follow China’s lead as lawmakers resist proposals that rely on taxpayer money to promote electric car sales. Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2011 pledged to put one million hybrid and battery plug-ins on the road by 2020 yet sales remain a fraction of all vehicle sales in Germany.

About 130,000 hybrids and 25,000 all-electric cars were registered on German roads as of January compared with 30 million gasoline cars and 14.5 million diesels, according to the KBA vehicle registration authority. A proposal by Germany’s Social Democrats to give buyers of electric cars a 5,000-euro ($5,700) cash bonus has so far gained little traction.

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