Germany ready to make 2B euro bet on electric vehicles

Germany wants to have a million electric vehicles buzzing down the Autobahn by 2020, and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel believes the country could stoke demand for greener driving by investing 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) into the segment, according to Reuters citing a German newspaper.

Gabriel's plan would disburse the massive amount of cash to support EVs in three ways. First, buyers would receive a government subsidy when they purchase an applicable vehicle, but the minister didn't specify an exactly how much that would be. He would also invest the money in building more charging stations and get the government to use more EVs.

A recent estimate suggested there were about 50,000 EVs in Germany at the end of 2015, which put the country significantly off pace for its million-car goal. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been outspoken about encouraging people to drive green, and she seemed close to supporting government subsidies for EVs last summer. However, nothing has been very successful at spurring plug-in vehicle sales there as of yet. For the last few years, we've heard rumors that the government would boost EV incentives in the past, so we take this latest discussion with the requisite grains of salt.

Government subsidies have worked to boost EV sales in other parts of the world. Norway, especially, found huge success by offering buyers incentives, and once there was enough momentum of people buying green vehicles, the country backed off the enticements. The right programs could let Germany follow the same path, if it decides to actually follow through this time.

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