Critics of the economic incentive for electric cars have had their I-told-you-so moment for now: The “eco-bonus” has been attracting little interest so far. Within two months (from September 5th, 2016), the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Export Control received a mere 3,027 applications. Registration figures, however, paint a slightly more optimistic picture of the market: For example, August 2016 showed around 900 newly registered, purely battery-driven cars as well as almost 4,000 hybrid versions.
The US market, however, has seen an average of 11,600 electric cars being sold per month during the first half of 2016, around 25 percent more than in the same period the year prior. Even in August, the majority of these cars were “real” electric cars (8,601 purely battery-driven and 6,372 plug-in hybrids), bringing the total number of electric vehicles to more than 500,000. In China, the Center of Automotive Management reported on average 30,000 electric and hybrid cars hitting the road each month, doubling the number of new electric car registrations compared to the same period in the previous year. Even in European countries such as Norway, France and the United Kingdom, the number of electric cars sold in the first half of 2016 climbed faster than in Germany (e.g., sales in Norway were at 3,600 a month).
Critics complain that the low demand was among other things the result of some car dealers using the national incentive program to drop previously granted discounts. Andreas Knie from the Innovation Center for Mobility and Societal Change (InnoZ) said that the difference in price between conventional and electric cars was still EUR 15,000 despite the economic incentive, so buying an electric car was just not appealing enough considering the currently low price of gas.