Billion injection: Even before the auto summit, the government took VW, BMW and Daimler by surprise

ALabor Minister Hubertus Heil still had to sort out his thoughts when he was supposed to go on the air on Tuesday evening: the SPD minister spoke several times about the results of the “Concerted Care Action” until his colleague, Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD), gently corrected him : “Today it’s about caring for the auto industry,” she said. Heil had mixed up the “Concerted Action Care” and the “Concerted Action Mobility”. The awkward name stands for what should actually take place later in the evening: the car summit.

But hours before the German government met with industry and employee representatives, Heil, Schulze, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) and Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) wanted to quickly create facts. Because even before the negotiations, the result should be determined – and announced.

“If things go bad, you need 6 to 7 hours for 400 kilometers”

WELT editor Nando Sommerfeldt was the first to receive the new Volkswagen ID.3 for testing. In the video he shows how well the electric car is doing.

Source: WELT / Nando Sommerfeldt

The press conference with four federal ministers was announced just 15 minutes before the start. The most important result: There are billions again for the auto industry. The ministers emphasized in unison that it is now about the German key industry. The state must do everything to ensure that the industry remains successful. But then there was quite a mess of numbers.

Three billion euros for the auto industry

Altmaier spoke of a total of five billion euros that will be used to support the auto industry. But in this the Minister of Economic Affairs booked two billion euros for the supplier industry, which were already included in the economic stimulus package, twice again. In fact, it is around three billion euros that taxpayers should take over so that the transformation of the industry succeeds. And of course we shouldn’t forget about climate protection, emphasized Schulze in particular.

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The federal government therefore wants to put another billion euros into the electric car premium. The so-called environmental bonus was doubled this year, but this higher subsidy should only apply until the end of next year. This increase, the so-called innovation bonus, will now be extended until the end of 2025.

However, the federal government is also cementing that the purchase of plug-in hybrids will also be funded for another five years. Although these vehicles also have an electric motor and can often cover a few tens of kilometers electrically, these cars use an internal combustion engine for longer distances. The funding is controversial because nobody can check whether the cars subsidized in this way are actually locally emission-free. Dealers report that the plug-in models are often returned with the charging cables in their original packaging at the end of the leasing period, because the owners apparently used the combustion engine almost exclusively.

Altmaier indicated that the government wants to enforce a small condition for the promotion of the hybrids: A minimum range will be determined, which one must be able to cover with the car in a purely electric manner. However, the Minister of Economic Affairs did not want to commit to an exact number of kilometers before the summit.

That is in the final paper of the auto summit

The draft of the final paper, which WELT has, stipulates that from 2022 only plug-in hybrids that can drive at least 60 kilometers electrically are to be funded, and from 2025 the range should be at least 80 kilometers.

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Mercedes EQC in the test

Another billion euros will be put into trucks. Transport Minister Scheuer announced a scrapping bonus for trucks over half a billion euros, with which the acquisition of more environmentally friendly trucks by haulage companies is to be promoted if they shut down old trucks for it. A further 500 million euros are to be made available for public-sector commercial vehicles, so that fire trucks and garbage trucks can also be exchanged for modern models.

However, this is not about vehicles with alternative drives such as hydrogen, because this technology is not yet ready for series production. Instead, the trucks are to be powered by more modern combustion engines that meet the current Euro 6 emissions standard.

The last of the three billion euros is to flow into a so-called future fund, which is to be used to pay for measures to transform the auto industry such as further training or retraining of employees. However, the precise purpose of the fund remains very vague.

Car maker not satisfied

However, the ministers made no additional financial commitments for the expansion of the charging infrastructure. In the days leading up to the summit, the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) had already put pressure on the construction of additional charging stations to be significantly accelerated. There are currently around 200 new charging options per week, but given the rapidly increasing sales of electric vehicles, 2000 additional charging points per week would be necessary. It is completely unclear who should pay for and operate the additional infrastructure. The car manufacturers do not see their responsibility, after all, they have not operated any petrol stations so far, instead they are hoping for energy suppliers and Retailer.

In the draft of the final paper, the previously formulated goal of building 50,000 public charging points by the end of next year is retained. “The federal government expects the automotive industry to make a significant contribution to this by the end of 2021 with the promised 15,000 publicly accessible charging points,” the draft says. However, that had already been decided before the summit.

In any case, the auto industry does not want to be satisfied with the further three billion euros. The problem of the lack of public charging stations remains. This is now to be tackled at the beginning of December at the so-called charging infrastructure summit. A VDA spokesman has already announced: “After the summit is before the summit.”

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