Currently reading: How nations around the world are encouraging electric car ownership
Governments are far from in harmony, as our analysis of nine key markets reveals
Autocar
News
5 mins read
22 November 2021

While a handful of countries are well on their way to electric-only new car sales, others remain almost entirely reliant on petrol and diesel and plenty more lie somewhere in between.

Autocar has examined the policies, plans and infrastructure of nine markets to see how key nations differ in their approaches to electrification. These are the results.

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Netherlands

Subsidies: €4000 (£3350) for new EVs costing up to €45,000 (£38,000) and €2000 (£1700) for used EVs.

Infrastructure: Around 75,000 public and 180,000 private chargers (as of July).

Interesting fact: It has 47.5 chargers per 100km (62 miles) – the most in Europe.

Second only to Norway as the most pro-EV nation, the Dutch’s 2030 new car ICE sales ban looks substantially more realistic than the UK’s. It has Europe’s densest charging network and plentiful tax breaks for EVs and penalties for ICE cars. Plug-in hybrids and FCEVs had a 24.8% market share in 2020.

Norway

Subsidies: No purchase grants but BEVs are exempt from VAT and purchase/import tax. Heaps of other benefits, too.

Infrastructure: More than 16,000 public chargers.

Interesting fact: EVs have been allowed to drive in bus lanes since 2005.

Norway sets the global standard for EV adoption. Plug-ins took almost 75% of new car sales in 2020, 54% of which were BEVs – the highest of any country. It plans to phase out new ICE cars by 2025, which seems likely to happen, given the swathes of financial incentives, the earliest of which – no purchase/import tax – was introduced in 1990. 

USA

Subsidies: Up to $7500 (£5575) federal tax credit for plug-in cars. Plans are in place to raise this to $12,500 (£9300) for EVs built by American union workers. Incentives vary by state.

Infrastructure: Some 43,000 public chargers.

Interesting fact: California has almost the same number of chargers as the 39 states with the lowest counts combined.

The American approach to EVs fluctuates hugely by state. The federal government has provided tax credits since 2010 and 40 of the 50 states have plug-in-friendly policies, with California leading. EVs took 1.7% of sales in 2020. Congress wants that to be 50% in 2030 and to have 500,000 chargers. 

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UK: Subsidies £2500 for sub-£35,000 cars that officially emit less than 50g/km and have an EV range of 70 miles or more.

Infrastructure: More than 26,000 public chargers.

Interesting fact: A China-style ‘percentage of production’ EV mandate will be introduced for manufacturers in 2024.

The UK has been subsidising plug-in cars since 2011 and their market share reached 10.7% last year. Its strength is the benefit-in-kind tax scheme, in which EVs are currently liable for just 1% (2% from next year, but that’s fixed until 2025), generating serious demand among fleets. Its downfall is a convoluted public charging infrastructure, with multiple suppliers and payment methods.

France

Subsidies: €6000 (£5000) off cars costing up to €45k (€38k) and emitting up to 20g/km; €2000 (£1700) for €45k-€60k (£38k-£51k) EVs; and €1000 (£850) for plug-in hybrids.

Infrastructure: Around 35,000 public chargers.

Interesting fact: A scrappage scheme offers four-figure grants (the exact sum depends on the vehicle) towards EVs and clean ICE models when drivers trade in an old car.

France, like China, had planned to reduce its EV subsidies but recently extended them into next year. It intends to ban new petrol and diesel car sales in 2040, but the government has been criticised for promising there will be 100,000 chargers by the end of 2021, because it’s clearly some way short of that.

Germany

Subsidies: Up to €9000 (£7500) for BEVs costing up to €40,000 (£34,000) and €6750 (£5700) for hybrids; €7500 (£6300) and €5625 (£4700) for those costing more than €40,000.

Infrastructure: Circa 45,000 public chargers.

Interesting fact: Its 2030 climate action programme included plans for a law requiring landlords to “tolerate the installation of charging infrastructure”.

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Germany has a long list of EV incentives and recently revealed plans to extend subsidies until 2025. The transport ministry did want a million chargers by 2030 but has since said that could be surplus if fast chargers are widely adopted. There are no plans to ban ICE cars nationally, but states and cities can ban them.

India

Subsidies: Incentives vary wildly by state. The national government removed registration fees for EVs in August.

Infrastructure: Fewer than 2000 public chargers (as of March).

Interesting fact: Two- and three-wheeled vehicles are the main focuses of the government’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicle (Fame) scheme.

India began its Fame scheme in 2015 and entered phase two in 2019, pledging three years of funding for a variety of public and private initiatives, but it’s “a few years away from the rate of EV adoption we’ve seen in the western world,” according to Jayesh Jagasia of automotive tech firm MSX International. “For EVs to deliver the value customers are seeking, it will still be a couple of technology cycles before they start to become viable.

Japan 

Subsidies: Grants doubled in 2020 to JP¥800,000 (£5000) for BEVs and JP¥400,000 (£2500) for plug-in hybrids. FCEVs get a whopping JP¥2,250,000 (£14,000).

Infrastructure: 29,200 charge points as of March 2021.

Interesting fact: There is reportedly a surplus of charge points. The total number has contracted slightly due to lack of use and old tech.

Japan was quick to adopt EV infrastructure in the early 2010s but hasn’t quite kept the momentum, partly because “they see hydrogen as the ultimate solution”, according to Mark Fennelly, head of global consulting at ASE Automotive Solutions, which explains the hefty fuel cell kickback. It intends to be carbon neutral by 2050. Current EV subsidies are for vehicles charged via clean sources, such as home solar panels or green energy suppliers. 

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China

Subsidies: CN¥13,000 (£1500) for BEVs with a 186- to 248- mile range, CN¥18,000 (£2000) for EVs with a range of more than 248 miles and CN¥6800 (£775) for plug-in hybrids.

Infrastructure: More than 800,000 public chargers.

Interesting fact: Numberplates for ICE cars are issued via auction in Shanghai, but they’re free for EVs. The purported world leader for EV charging, China planned to phase out its long-standing incentives by the end of 2020 but extended them after the pandemic blunted uptake. The buck is due to shift to manufacturers, which will be mandated to sell a certain percentage of battery-powered cars to avoid fines ahead of the country’s target of 40% EV sales by 2030. 

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