In France and Germany, where subsidies are unprecedented, consumers can rent electric bikes for free
Thanks to the latest government subsidies, consumers in Germany and France can rent a new electric car, even for free, for "less than mobile phone instalments".After the two governments introduced incentives for electric bikes, buyers flocked to local online car showrooms.
With government support, Autohaus Koenig, a chain of car dealerships with more than 50 stores across Germany, can lease Renault Zoe electric cars, which are fully subsidised.
In the 20 days after the company posted the offer online, about 3,000 people inquired and about 300 signed leases.
"If we had more salespeople, we would have sold more," says Wolfgang Huber. "We did expect subsidies to increase sales, but this time we were shocked."
The European auto market is said to be recovering much more slowly than markets in China and North America, forcing policymakers to step up support: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have been trying to soften the blow.
In France, where demand for petrol cars has slumped, sales of the electric Renault Zoe are expected to double this year;In the Netherlands, where the city of Amsterdam banned non-electric cars from 2030, the €10m ($11.4m) fund to support the purchase of electric cars ran out in eight days this month.
"There are a lot of attractive incentives now because of increased subsidies, which is also boosting demand.""The EU is pushing for decarbonization and the crisis has made them accelerate that process," said Aleksandra O'Donovan, an analyst at BloombergNEF.
Germany's subsidy of up to 9,000 euros per electric car is understood to have boosted sales of Carfellows, the German car trading site, nearly tenfold.
"This is a golden moment for us," said Rainer Westdoerp, spokeswoman for Carefellows, which will lease the Smart EQ on Wednesday (July 15) for €9.90 a month.
For dealers, companies that lease electric vehicles are the most affordable to purchase, easy to enforce tax credits and share risks;But the average German consumer can still rent an electric car from the site for as little as €39 a month.
In France, where the government raised the subsidy to €7,000 per car this year, customers can rent a Renault Zoe for €79 a month.
It's worth noting that not all European countries are investing more in electric bikes, with Britain and Belgium recently cutting aid.China had planned to end the subsidies this year but extended them until 2022 in response to the outbreak.
Overall, eight of the nine countries with the largest subsidies are in continental Europe, according to BloombergNEF, making them attractive to "European buyers."
"Governments have to think carefully about when to stop subsidies to avoid a sharp decline in sales."But at some point, people will stop worrying about it.
"The drop in battery prices suggests that buying an electric bike should be cheaper than buying a gasoline car from mid-2020."If that happens, even without subsidies, the market could accelerate."