Environmental bonus: Legal abuse clearly evident in 2022 as well
Anyone who buys an electric car in Germany will still be able to collect the coveted environmental bonus in 2023. It has now come to light that the financial allowance from the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) has been paid out several times in one year for some applicants.
Smaller environmental bonus reduces e-car sales
To boost sales of internal combustion alternatives, BAFA created the so-called environmental bonus in 2016. This provided for a purchase premium financed by the federal government and the automotive industry in the event of registration of electric cars, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid models. To benefit from the payment, buyers or lessees had to unceremoniously submit their vehicle’s registration data to BAFA. As a result, the authority paid out the individual premium. Finally, the amount of the eco-rebate depends on the type of vehicle. For example, buyers of an all-electric car with a net list price of less than 40,000 euros were entitled to a whopping 6,000 euros in environmental bonus.
For e-cars with a price between 40,000 euros and 65,000 euros, on the other hand, the bonus was only 5,000 euros. For plug-in hybrids, the bonus up to Dec. 31, 2022, was 4,500 euros for a net list price up to 40,000 euros and 3,000 euros for a price between 40,000 euros and 65,000 euros. But with the turn of the year to 2023, things have changed. While electric cars will only receive a maximum of 4,500 euros, buyers of plug-in hybrids will no longer receive any bonus at all. Germany is not the only country that has decided to reduce or cancel the bonus. Many countries around the world have rowed back. This has a direct impact on the registration figures for electric cars. These have in fact declined significantly worldwide in 2023. A lack of financial incentives is likely to be the cause here.
Multiple environmental bonus for one in four applicants
While some complain about the reduction in the environmental bonus, others have skimmed it off several times, as BAFA has now made public. In total, there are said to have been the proud number of 472,282 applications from private individuals, companies or associations in 2022. What is exciting is the fact that 115,376 people collected the bonus several times within one year. This corresponds to just under a quarter of the total applications. Opposite the colleagues of Golem.de became the BAFA then still somewhat more clearly. There, the authority stated that “the overwhelming number of multiple applications was mainly submitted by companies.”
Since not only medium-sized companies, but also providers such as car rental companies and car sharing companies, according to experience, have an extensive fleet of vehicles, this is not surprising. Nevertheless, the whole thing also has a negative connotation. After all, according to a study by the Center of Automotive Management (CAM), more than 16 percent of the e-cars registered in 2022 will probably no longer be in the fleets of the companies concerned. This could in fact be a legal abuse of the environmental bonus. This is also confirmed by an article from Welt.de. There, it was also possible to view the CAM statistics for the first time.
Continued sales abroad for profit
Stefan Bratzer, head of CAM, even assumes that in some cases of multiple applications, the environmental bonus was taken with the intention of profit. In this case, the companies concerned first collected the bonus and then resold the vehicle. The assumption seems particularly obvious in the case of private individuals who have secured the environmental bonus several times in 2022. After all, it is rather rare for an individual to register a new car several times within one year. In particular, a resale abroad seems to be a thoroughly interesting model for some.
In 2022, the vehicle still had to have a minimum holding period of six months before it could be sold. This has changed in 2023. By increasing the minimum holding period to 12 months, BAFA has skillfully responded to the problem of legal misuse of the premium. Incidentally, the problem is not new. The authority already recorded multiple applications in previous years. In addition to increasing the minimum holding period and reducing the subsidy, BAFA has also reacted to the use by companies. From September 1, 2023, only private individuals will be able to apply for the environmental bonus.
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