FRANKFURT – The German government said it will require gasoline stations to offer electric car charging to help ease buyers’ concerns about range and support demand for EVs as part of its 130 billion-euro ($146 billion) economic recovery plan.
The move could provide a significant boost to EV demand as part of a broader coronavirus stimulus plan, which includes taxes to penalize ownership of large polluting combustion-engined cars such as SUVs and a 6,000-euro subsidy toward the cost of an electric vehicle.
Germany's announcement follows a French plan to boost electric car sales announced last week by President Emmanuel Macron.
"It's a very clear commitment to battery-powered vehicles and establishes electric mobility as a technology of the future," said energy storage specialist The Mobility House, whose investors include Daimler and the Renault-Nissan alliance.
"Internationally this puts Germany in the leading group of battery electric vehicle support," the company said.
As part of the government stimulus, 2.5 billion euros will be spent on battery cell production and charging infrastructure, a field where oil majors, utilities and carmakers, including Shell, Engie and Tesla, are vying for dominance.
Customer demand for electric cars has been constrained by concerns about limited operating range. In Germany, electric cars made up only 1.8 percent of new passenger car registrations last year, with diesel accounting for 32 percent and gasoline 59 percent.
Of the 168,148 new-car registrations in May, 5,578 or 3.3 percent were electric cars, according to German vehicle agency KBA.
Diego Biasi, chairman and co-founder of Quercus Real Assets, which invests in renewable energy ventures, said the German plan would help consumers feel more comfortable buying an electric vehicle.
"We know that 97 percent of the reason why they’re not buying electric cars is range anxiety,” Biasi said. “The German move is a way to try and fix this range anxiety, since it means you know a petrol station is always open."
As of March, Germany had 27,730 electric car charging stations, according to BDEW, Germany's association for the energy and water industry.
To achieve a mass market for electric cars, at least 70,000 charging stations and 7,000 fast charging stations are required, the agency said.
Electric vehicle range has improved by around 40 percent in the past decade, thanks to improvements in battery pack design and cell chemistry.
A similar improvement in fuel efficiency of gasoline powered cars has led to a reduction in the number of gasoline stations. According to roadside assistance association ADAC, the number of stations has fallen to 14,118 in 2020 from 40,640 in 1965.