BERLIN, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Germany's Economics Minister Peter Altmaier announced in Berlin on Friday to extend the governmental stimulus program for buying electric cars until the end of 2020.
"We need continuity in support," said Altmaier, who's ministry is in charge of the incentive program.
The incentive program for electric cars introduced three years ago was originally designed to expire at the end of June this year. So far, the "environmental premium" has been financed by the German car industry and government in equal parts.
However, weak demand for electric cars in Germany despite the financial incentive of 2,000 euros (2,232 U.S. dollars) made the program fail to fulfill expectations.
Although new registrations of electric cars in Germany are increasing, the number of electric vehicles in Germany is still at a low level.
According to figures from the German Motor Transport Authority (KBA), out of a total of 57.3 million vehicles in 2018, only 83,000 were pure electric cars while the number of hybrid cars was around 341,000.
Now, the German government is extending the premium until the end of 2020 but the subsidy can expire earlier if the premium pot of a total of 1.2 billion euros has been emptied.
As a next step, the premium paid by the German government of pure battery electric cars will be doubled from 2,000 to 4,000 euros for cars costing up to 30,000 euros. For more expensive cars, the premium would still be 2,500 euros.
According to the Ministry of Economics, 118,000 applications for the purchase premium have been received so far. The German newspaper Welt reported that the premium paid out so far amounted to approximately 400 million euros.
Altmaier called on the automobile industry to intensify its efforts to expand electric mobility in Germany. "Internationally successful e-cars are also decisive for the future success of the German automotive industry," Altmaier added.
The Association of the German Automotive Industry (VDA) welcomed the extension of the premium but is calling for a faster expansion of the charging infrastructure in Germany.
The current stock of 17,400 publicly accessible charging points in Germany was "absolutely insufficient", a VDA spokesperson told the German press agency (dpa).