Markus Söder, the state premier of Bavaria, is lobbying for an “innovation premium” for the automotive sector to kick-start the economy after the Covid-19 crisis, with subsidies for new electric cars of €10,000 ($10,800).
Such a measure is likely to give e-vehicle sales in Germany a massive boost and push the need for more renewable energy higher in Europe’s largest economy.
Bavaria is the country’s second most populous state, and a key producer of high-end cars, including BMW and Audi.
Germany currently offers a subsidy of €6,000 for the purchase of new e-cars, but the level hasn’t been sufficient to trigger a boom in electronic car sales. Söder in an interview with Focus magazine proposed a car scrappage scheme that differentiates between emissions by different car types.
“If we increase current aids for electronic cars somewhat, it would be a real purchase incentive,” he told the magazine.
“That could finance a €10,000 premium for high quality ecological cars. And it would give us the chance to also send a climate policy signal, next to an economic one.”
Germany with an ‘environmental’ car scrappage scheme was rather successful in kick-starting its automotive sector after the 2008 financial crisis. But the programme then wasn’t directed at electronic vehicles yet.
Thanks to determined policies to contain the Covid-19 outbreak in the state, Söder in recent weeks has become Germany’s second-most popular politician after Chancellor Angela Merkel, and is already tipped as her possible successor.
Söder is also the head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). The two parties will have a joint candidate for Chancellor in elections next year in which Merkel said she won’t run anymore.
The state premier since loosing a substantial amount of votes to the Green Party in state elections last year has made an effort to boost its own ecologic credentials, but has been accused of engaging in lip-service instead of real policies. Söder has been photographed hugging trees, while refusing to end a damaging distance rule for onshore wind in Bavaria.
In the interview with Focus, he did stress the need for a post-Covid-19 recovery stimulus to include climate action, such as more aid for energy and research.
“We must not be fooled: climate change also has a kind of pandemic effect. And unfortunately, there will be no vaccine for that.”