Germany seeks to increase EV sales with free parking

Germany will offer green car buyers the prospect of free parking as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government seeks to have 1 million electric vehicles on German roads by 2020, from about 21,000 at the start of the year.

The German cabinet today backed a bill that would enable municipalities to offer drivers of battery-powered cars, fuel cell vehicles and some plug-in hybrids privileges including parking and the right to use bus lanes, the Environment Ministry said in a statement.

“Electric cars will get their own labels so they’re recognizable to everyone,” Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said in the statement. “Sales will rise amid an increasing selection of electric models and a growing number of e-cars on the roads.”

Germany‚Äôs 2020 sales goal is aimed at underscoring the country’s prowess in auto manufacturing as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet climate-protection targets. Transport, which accounts for about 16 percent of the country’s carbon-dioxide emissions, generated about 140 million metric tons of CO2 in 2012, from about 161 million tons in 2001.

The measures “can boost electric mobility,” Matthias Wissmann, president of the VDA auto industry group, said today. The rules have to take effect quickly and apply nationally to convince customers, he said.

Germany was a transport pioneer when it opened Europe’s first car-only highway in 1921 in Berlin. Its free-wheeling autobahn, which often doesn’t have a speed limit, has spurred a motoring culture, helping BMW Group, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen Group’s Audi and Porsche dominate the market for high-end cars.

Including vehicles like BMW’s i3 and an electric version of Daimler’s Smart car, German automakers will offer 17 electric-powered models by the end of 2014, and another 12 will be going on sale next year, VDA said.

Hybrids with CO2 emissions of no more than 50 grams per kilometer or an electric range of more than 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) qualify for the benefits, according to the government’s statement. The changes are to take effect in spring 2015.