German dealer offers free lease contract for EVs
Autohaus König, a Renault dealership chain with more than 50 locations across Germany, is offering its customers a two-year lease contract for a Renault Zoe (pictured at the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show) – entirely for free. It's the most spectacular example of a government-subsidised push to sell EVs taking place across Europe.
Germany’s state subsidies for EV purchases cover König's €125 per month lease payment and even the cost of the deposit. Drivers will still need to pay for the insurance themselves, though. König has been swamped with enquiries and has signed more than 300 contracts so far.
The rush on EVs is an indirect consequence of the COVID-19 crisis, which has prompted Europe's leaders to support their badly-hit automotive industries by subsidising EVs in particular. Germany's generous subsidies for EVs, together with those in France, are among the most generous in the world. With noticeable results.
- In France, Renault Zoe sales are on track to double for the whole year, compared to 2019. Thanks to government subsidies of up to €7,000 per EV, French customers can lease a Zoe from just €79 per month.
- In Germany, subsidies of up to €9,000 per EV have boosted sales and allowed car-trading startup Carfellows to offer leases on Daimler AG's Smart EQ from just €9.90 a month. For fiscal reasons, these very cheap lease offers in Germany are usually for buyers of company cars.
But it's not just the Paris-Berlin axis that has chosen to use the corona crisis as a means to push towards decarbonisation. The Netherlands too have set up a €10-million fund to support EV purchases, to name but one other example. Croatia, Romania and Poland are also offering large EV purchasing subsidies.
While not all countries are moving in the same direction – the UK and Belgium recently cut EV purchase subsidies – eight out of the nine countries with the largest such subsidies in the world are still in Europe.
In this way, the corona crisis is providing an unexpected boost to the decarbonisation of Europe’s mobility sector. By about the middle of the 2020s, EVs will be cheaper than petrol and diesel vehicles even without subsidies. It remains to be seen, however, whether the current high level of government support for EV purchases can be maintained until then.