All about subsidies, taxes, insurance and registration

If you are thinking of buying an electric car, you may have some questions. Because there is a lot to clarify in terms of range, load options and subsidies. This article provides an overview of what to consider before making a purchase.

Electric mobility on the rise

The question of which electric car is the right one has become increasingly complex in recent years. While the Toyota Prius, Tesla or Nissan Leaf pioneered electromobility, the range has now grown to unmanageable size. Almost every automaker has at least some electric vehicles, whether it’s a large SUV or a compact city car. It is even more important to clarify the drastic questions beforehand and thus facilitate the selection.

How does the upload work?

If you want to charge your electric car at home, you need a so-called wall box. The electrician installs it and plugs it directly into the fuse box, allowing for convenient overnight charging. With your own garage or property, this variant is usually not problematic. However, there is also the right to wallpaper boxes in rental flats that include a parking space. However, subsidies for the purchase of one do not exist since 2022.

Along the way there is the possibility of accessing a constantly growing network of charging stations. Charging plugs are standardized throughout Europe, so you only need to have a single cable with you. The duration of the charging process depends on the charging speed of the electric car and the respective season. The costs are on average 4 to 6 euros per 100 kilometers. Select stations can even be used for free. Additionally, many electric cars support significantly faster charging via direct current. The associated stations are much more expensive, but they fill the vehicle with energy in a few minutes. Therefore, they are mainly found along expressways, highways, and service areas. It makes sense to plan longer trips with the help of maps and anticipate possible stops at charging stations.

If there is no charging station nearby, electric cars can also be charged at a conventional household socket. Depending on the size of the battery, this can take a long time. No need to worry about the charging cable being stolen during the charging process. Because it is locked by both the vehicle and the charging station. The weather also does not play any role in this context because all cables and connections are waterproof.

Is there an environmental premium?

In 2022, buyers are still entitled to a maximum premium of €9,000. This amount was only increased in June 2020. The government premium is intended to mitigate higher acquisition costs and strengthen demand. Currently, so-called plug-in hybrid drives are still supported with a bonus, but only as long as they can cover at least 60 kilometers using the electric drive. This premium is expected to expire at the end of 2022. Finally, the environmental bonus can also be claimed online at the responsible Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control.

The €9,000 premium can be applied when renting or buying an electric car with a net price of less than €40,000. Cars priced between 40,000 and 65,000 euros receive a maximum subsidy of 7,500 euros. In addition to individuals, the bonus also includes associations, companies and foundations. At this amount, funding can probably be requested until the end of the year. It is then reduced or given an expiration date.

If you want to charge your electric car at home, you need a so-called wall box.  A wall box usually requires a three-phase connection with a voltage of 400 volts.
If you want to charge your electric car at home, you need a so-called wall box. A wall box usually requires a three-phase connection with a voltage of 400 volts. (Image: Adobe Stock / Ruhr Area Photo)

Tax advantages for electric cars

Apart from the environmental bonus, the owners of electric cars also benefit at the fiscal level. Attractive regulations apply to battery-powered electric vehicles in particular. The vehicle tax will cease to apply until December 31, 2025. It affects the first registrations of electric cars from May 18, 2011 and retrofits from May 18, 2016.

The motor vehicle tax will be exempt for 10 years, and the exemption will remain in effect until 2030 at the latest. But even then, a 50 percent tax cut applies. Plug-in hybrids are not included in this regulation, but still benefit from discounts.

Admission

For an electric vehicle to be approved, the usual documentation is required, as is the case with combustion engines. This includes registration papers (vehicle registration document and registration document), identity document, proof of general inspection and proof of insurance. Under certain conditions, electric vehicle owners can apply for a new license plate.

These include the following models:

  • Vehicles that can be charged externally (for example, plug-in hybrids)
  • pure battery electric vehicles
  • fuel cell cars

The plate awarded in this way receives an “E” in the appendix of the number combination. It has the advantage that in many communities you can use parking spaces for free or even drive through special lanes. Such a DIN-certified license plate can now also be conveniently booked and ordered from home, making annoying waiting times a thing of the past.

How should the battery be?

Regarding the capacity and autonomy of the battery, not only the manufacturer’s information should be taken into account. Because these are often higher than in daily operation. So it makes sense to ask up front about the “range in actual operation”. The range is less at temperatures below 0 degrees. The total capacity of the battery also decreases after a few years of use. To be safe, select an electric car with 30 percent more actual range than is actually needed. To keep the purchase price low, some manufacturers offer to buy a vehicle without a battery and rent it for a fixed monthly price. However, it must be checked whether the offer is also worthwhile in the long term. Because there are usually limited free kilometers, which means you have to pay extra if you exceed them.

Insurance

In most cases, insurance for electric cars is cheaper than for equally expensive combustion engines. As with normal cars, only civil liability insurance is mandatory. Otherwise, an electric or hybrid car cannot be used on public roads. Pay for the damages that you yourself cause with your own vehicle. Whether the vehicle is a full electric car or a hybrid model does not affect performance.

Full or partial insurance is recommended, especially for more expensive models. Because this also covers damage to your own vehicle. There are also special services for electric and hybrid vehicles, for example for the battery, the heart of every electric car. If damage occurs, it can be very expensive. Therefore, it makes sense to fully include the battery in the insurance. Some manufacturers even offer battery warranties. For Renault, Tesla and the latest VW models, this is at least 8 years. Other manufacturers link the guarantee to the maximum mileage.

To be able to drive an electric car on public roads, it is necessary to take out civil liability insurance for motor vehicles.  Full or partial insurance is recommended, especially for more expensive models.
To be able to drive an electric car on public roads, it is necessary to take out civil liability insurance for motor vehicles. Full or partial insurance is recommended, especially for more expensive models. (Image: Adobe Stock / Anatta_Tan)

It’s also worth getting information up front about exactly when electric car insurance pays and when it doesn’t. The services usually apply:

  • if you cause property damage, personal injury or financial loss to other road users through your own driving behavior
  • if damage occurs due to a power surge, e.g. lightning, which is transmitted through the charging cable in the car
  • if the battery needs to be replaced because it is no longer functional due to overvoltage

Electric car insurance is not responsible:

  • in the event of defects in material or construction by the manufacturer
  • in case of damage caused by the natural process of aging and wear
  • for damage caused by chemical reactions (lyes, acids, oxidation).
  • in the event of damage caused intentionally
  • in accidents caused by the influence of drugs or drunkenness

When is comprehensive e-car insurance worth it?

Comprehensive insurance is usually worth it for young cars. They should not be more than 5 years old, because electric cars are usually more expensive to buy than combustion engines. Also, as mentioned, comprehensive insurance comes with valuable additional services. So if you depend on the car to work, you can definitely benefit from comprehensive insurance. After all, there is also a replacement vehicle in case of an accident that you cause yourself.

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