Manufacturers call for government backing

BMW and Renault are both hoping the German government will introduce initiatives to accelerate demand for electric cars in the country.

Speaking at the Geneva International Motor Show yesterday, both manufacturers said they were hopeful that support from Chancellor Angela Merkel would be forthcoming.

BMW AG chief executive officer Harald Krueger said, ‘We need government support to boost sales. We’re in positive talks with the German government and I expect there will be a resolution soon.’

His comments were echoed by Renault SA CEO Carlos Ghosn, who said, ‘If Germany takes important measures to support electric cars, it’s going to help us a lot to boost the volume.’

The price of electric cars is seen as the major reason why sales are low, with just over 30,000 sold in the country so far. That is well shy of the government target of one million electric cars on German roads by 2020.

Angela Merkel has raised the possibility of introducing government subsidies and other initiatives which could support the technology, although it’s reported her government is still split on the issue.

Ghosn believes the benefits of government help would be telling. He said, ‘We will benefit from economies of scale, and we will lower the cost as much as possible, but we don’t want to be in a situation where you make so many losses on electric cars that you stop development of the technology.

‘We are in many markets in a break-even or even positive situation, but again, we are the leader in electric cars, and we are by far selling the most.’

Industry experts are due to meet with Angela Merkel again next month to discuss the options.

Harald Krueger said, ‘We need to get our three-pronged approach right: that is offering cars with enough electric range, having sufficient charging infrastructure and offering financial incentives.’

France introduced subsidies last year, which resulted in improved sales, while a range of incentives for electric car drivers in Norway led to sales of nearly 26,000 electric cars last year, about 17% of the overall market.