Germany boosts support for electric cars with cash bonuses and a million charging points
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday said her government was stepping up efforts to roll out a vast network of electric car charging points in a bid to encourage drivers to make the switch and help the country meet its climate targets.
In her weekly podcast, Merkel said the rapid expansion of reliable, easy-to-use charging stations across Germany was necessary to give drivers "the confidence to buy an e-car".
"That's why we want to create one million charging points by 2030, and the industry will participate in this too," she said.
The comments came on the eve of a major meeting between car industry bosses and government ministries in Berlin.
In September, Merkel's government set itself the ambitious goal of increasing the number of charging stations to a million as part of a package of measures to reduce Germany's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.
The country currently has just 21,000 public car charging points.
The government's "climate package" also wants to see seven to 10 million zero-emission electric cars on the roads by 2030, up from around 220,000 last August.
But to achieve that, the transport ministry says drivers first need to overcome "range anxiety" -- the fear of running out of juice in between charging points.
According to documents seen by AFP, the ministry will at Monday's meeting lay out a plan that prioritises installing battery-charging stations at supermarkets and petrol stations, and making it easier for building owners to set up charging points in underground parks.
The pivot to cleaner cars has been given fresh urgency as automakers face tough new EU limits on carbon dioxide emissions, while Berlin has come under pressure to take stronger climate action after falling short of its own 2020 targets for curbing greenhouse gases.
The government has insisted that automakers have to play their part in shifting to the greener cars of tomorrow, by offering discounts to buyers or by filling in gaps in the charging network.
But Merkel, once dubbed the "car chancellor" for her cosy ties with auto bosses, has also stressed that the crucial industry's 800,000 employees will not be left behind.
Monday's meeting was also about protecting jobs in the fast-changing sector, she said, adding that retraining schemes could help bring workers "along on the road to a modern, climate-friendly future".