BERLIN — Germany’s federal election will have a major influence on the future of its auto industry, already in a race against time to meet national and EU emissions targets.
Chancellor Angela Merkel will step down after 16 years in power and Germans will vote on a new government on Sept. 26.
All major parties back the transition to electric vehicles but differ on how to get there.
Here are the main points from each party on the matter:
Christian Democratic Union (CDU)
Key message: Merkel’s party wants Germany’s auto industry to remain a world-leader and be technologically open-minded on how emissions targets can be met.
The party rejects setting an end date for producing internal combustion engine cars, or a speed limit on motorways.
It calls for expanding public transport to alleviate road traffic, but also plans to build more roads and motorways to prevent traffic jams.
Charging infrastructure for electric vehicles should be available in all new commercial and public buildings, the manifesto says. The party’s candidate to succeed Merkel as chancellor, Armin Laschet, said in a recent interview a charging station should always be reachable within ten minutes.
The party supports synthetic fuels and hydrogen, including for trucks.
Key message: Cars must be “more digital, quieter, smaller and lighter, climate neutral and easier to recycle,” its manifesto reads, adding “we want to make the switch to bike, bus and train attractive for everyone and encourage it financially.”
Germany should stop producing ICE cars by 2030, the Greens say. A speed limit of 130km/h should be implemented on motorways, down to 120km/h when close to metropolitan areas and 30km/h in city centers.
To reduce dependency on cars, the party would abolish plans to build new roads and instead double the number of bike and pedestrian pathways in the next decade. It would invest 100 billion euros in rail, partly financed through truck tolls.
Electric vehicles should be affordable for anyone, chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock has said, calling for low-earning EV buyers to receive an additional 3,000 euros in credit on top of existing subsidies of 6,000 euros, to be repaid interest-free from savings generating by the lower cost of electric charging compared to fuel.
Hydrogen and synthetic fuels should only be used for industrial transport, ships, and planes.
Social Democratic Party (SPD)
Key message: The state should support the EV transition without intervening too heavily or jeopardizing Germany’s position in the auto industry.
The SPD does not support a government-determined end date for combustion engines – chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz said in a recent interview that consumers would opt for EVs once they achieved price and quality parity.
But the state should do its part in subsidizing the EV transition, including speeding up the expansion of charging networks, Scholz has said.
The manifesto also calls for expanding hydrogen pipelines, battery cell production, and recycling. As finance minister, Scholz released a billion-euro fund in August to support the EV transition until 2025.
The party supports hydrogen and synthetic fuels for heavy trucks, ships and planes.
Like the Greens, it backs a motorway speed limit of 130 kph (81 mph). Scholz has also expressed support for a 50 kph limit in cities.
Free Democratic Party
Key message: The free-market party rejects “the path of renunciation and prohibition,” opposing an end date for gas guzzlers or a speed limit on the motorway.
E-mobility is just one part of the transport mix of the future, its manifesto says.
The party opposes the EU’s emissions targets as well as German subsidies for EV purchases. Still, its manifesto states charging stations should be expanded, with transparent pricing systems. It supports the use of hydrogen and synthetic fuels.