The first is over in Germany, where the government currently gives EV buyers 6000 euros towards the cost of their car – the third most generous country in Europe for incentives. However, unlike the plug-in car grant that we have here, the German equivalent can be used to pay off monthly finance or leasing, rather than simply being deducted from the list price of the car – as is the case in the UK.
You can probably see where this is going, but it is nonetheless a cracking idea: German dealer group Autohaus Koenig, which sells FCA Group cars, Renaults and Kias, will now lease a Renault ZOE for two years for the grand total of (you guessed it) 6000 euros. This essentially means that for an entire ownership period, the German taxpayer is footing the bill.
As you'd expect, this deal has gone down extremely well with buyers. Quoted in the original story over on Bloomberg, Wolfgang Huber, who is head of EV sales for Autohaus Koenig in Berlin: “If we had more sales staff, we would have sold even more. We did expect an increase in sales with the subsidies, but this run has really struck us.”
According to Autohaus Koenig, in the first 20 days of the offer being made available, around 3000 people enquired with ten per cent of those having already been converted into customers.
Whilst the chances of the government here upping the PiCG are basically zero, enabling the money to be put against finance or leasing is something that we think the UK should implement. It works for consumers but covering a good number of monthly payments, and, given how popular things like PCP finance and leasing are, it would work for dealers, too.
In France, Renault has undertaken what is a mixture of PR stunt and large-scale market research by giving every household in the small town of Appy in the deep south of the country a free ZOE. The residents (all 25 of them according to the internet – we did say it was a 'small' town) will get to experience a ZOE for three years. Their homes will be equipped with a charger, and a new public charger is being installed in the town.
Renault's rationale behind this does hold some water over and above a piece of marketing as a way of testing the viability of EV ownership for people in rural communities. Appy is one of the most isolated towns in the region, if not the country, but Renault reckons that the 245 miles (WLTP) range is enough for most people, most of the time.
During the three year test, the town's residents will share their impressions and experiences of living with an EV, helping Renault to understand how people in more isolated areas interact and use their cars on a day-to-day basis. The brand's ultimate goal is to demonstrate that it's easier than ever to make the move over to EVs – whether customers are urbanites or country dwellers.
Sadly, whilst it's a nice stunt-come-proof-of-concept by Renault, it is an isolated scheme. Then again, our own Editor, Louise, lives in the relative wilds of Kent and runs a Tesla, so we can safely say from experience that in the much more densely populated UK, living in a rural area and owning an EV is perfectly viable!
In fact, you can read our own experience of how good an EV is at long-distance driving and general holiday duties here.