Electric cars are distributed very differently in Germany. They are rarely seen on roads in eastern Germany, but are most common in southern Germany, according to figures from the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority). For every 1,000 inhabitants, there are 9.6 cars with pure battery drive or plug-in hybrid in Baden-Wurttemberg, compared with only 3.1 in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony-Anhalt. All eastern German states are well below the national average of 7.1, according to a calculation by Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Auto expert Stefan Bratzel sees several reasons why e-cars sell differently from region to region: rough car locations, the charging station network and the purchasing power of local people.
Vehicle fleets at manufacturer locations
"Employee vehicles and access to employees play an important role", said the head of the Center of Automotive Management in Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany. The use of their own employees is an important way for companies to introduce new vehicle models to the market. Car-sharing fleets of carmakers were added to the mix.
The highest density of e-cars, according to the official figures as of 1. January in federal states where car manufacturers have their headquarters: Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Lower Saxony and Hesse.
Charging capabilities and purchasing power are key
In the East, electric car drivers also have further to go to the next charging station. For every square kilometer of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, about one charging station is registered with the Federal Network Agency; in North Rhine-Westphalia, there are about ten times as many. "It depends a lot on the charging infrastructure and on garages and parking spaces", said Bratzel.
Disposable income also plays a role. "Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg are rich states and therefore more likely to be involved in new technologies." Moreover, until recently, pure e-cars were more likely to be purchased as second cars. Several cars per household are more common in more affluent regions.
In the meantime, however, the demand means that e-cars are hardly more expensive than combustion engines, said Bratzel. Buyers also benefit from lower maintenance costs of electric-powered vehicles.
More e-cars also thanks to prams
Federal government and manufacturer grant bonuses of up to 9000 euros for the purchase of an electric car. For vehicles that combine an electric motor that can be charged at the socket with an internal combustion engine (plug-in hybrid), it is up to 6750 euros. Excluded from the subsidy are hybrids without plugs, which recharge their battery while driving themselves.
At the turn of the year, there were about 590.000 battery electric or plug-in hybrid cars, which was just over one percent of the inventory. Buying premiums make market share grow. In 2020, one in seven newly registered cars fell into one of the two segments. More e-cars than diesels were newly registered in April. "This year, we will get into a rough order of 20 percent for battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids", Bratzel described the trend in new admissions.