The Spanish government has launched a EUR590m programme to promote and sell up to 70,000 electric vehicles in 2011-2012.
The scheme comprises 15 measures to boost demand, invest in research and develop recharging infrastructure which is virtually non-existent here.
The ‘Plan de Accion’ will reward drivers with up to EUR6,000 towards the purchase of a new electric car. The state hopes the initiative will translate into 20,000 sales next year and 50,000 in 2012, most of which will go to public and corporate fleets.
Developing electric cars is an opportunity that “cannot be passed,” president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said when announcing the plan in Madrid. “These types of projects generate confidence and foster innovation” in a country mired in recession.
The news comes as the Spanish automobile sector, Europe’s third largest, reported a 63% sales jump in March.
However, industry lobby groups warned this was due to the Prever aid package expiring in June and a tax sales rise due in that month bringing sales forward. They renewed pleas for the package to be extended into the second half to avoid a sales slump debacle.
The new government initiative is part of a broader package to promote battery powered cars and hybrid vehicles so that 1m are on Spanish roads by 2014. However, industry observers maintain this goal will be unachievable unless the state does more to promote the vehicles in a country with one of Europe’s worse environmental profiles.
Franciso Javier Garcia Sanz, president of leading automakers’ federation Anfac, welcomed the move but said more must be done to make pricey electric models attractive to recession-hit consumers.
“The post-oil era has arrived and our industry has put a big bet on it,“ Garcia Sanz said. “All we need now is to find a way to market these vehicles at an attractive price for consumers.”