Car buyers in Europe can now get their hands on a brand-new electric vehicle for less than the typical cost of a mobile-phone contract. Thanks to newly generous subsidies, some are even free.
Shoppers have swarmed virtual showrooms in Germany and France — the region’s two largest passenger-car markets — after their national governments boosted electric-vehicle incentives to stimulate demand. Their purchase subsidies are now among the most favorable in the world, according to BloombergNEF.
The state support is allowing Autohaus Koenig, a dealership chain with more than 50 locations across Germany, to advertise a lease for the battery-powered Renault Zoe that is entirely covered by subsidies. In the 20 days since it put the offer online, roughly 3,000 people have inquired and about 300 have signed contracts.
“If we had more sales staff, we would have sold even more,” said Wolfgang Huber, head of electric-car sales for the dealer in Berlin, who published a Facebook post asking customers to be patient. “We did expect an increase in sales with the subsidies, but this run really struck us.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron have sought to soften the coronavirus pandemic’s blow to the badly hit car sector. Sales in Europe have recovered more slowly in Europe than in China or North America, pressuring policy makers to support major sources of employment and economic activity.
In France, sales of Renault’s Zoe model are on track to double this year even as demand for gasoline vehicles has cratered. And in the Netherlands, where the city of Amsterdam is banning non-electric cars from 2030, a 10 million-euro ($11.4 million) fund to support EV purchases was used up in just eight days this month.
“There are a lot of attractive offers right now because of higher subsidies, and that’s boosting demand,” said Aleksandra O’Donovan, an analyst with BloombergNEF. “The EU is pushing toward decarbonizing transport, and the coronavirus crisis has allowed them to accelerate that.”
Read more: Bloomberg
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