Electric car incentives are growing across Europe — here's what you should know

All across the globe, aggressive mandates are being set up to transition countries away from petrol and diesel cars. In fact, according to Climate Change News, "the European commission is considering implementing an electric car quota to be achieved by automakers by 2030, according to diplomats and sources familiar with the issue. With France, the Netherlands and Britain planning diesel bans by 2040, commission officials are said to view a new mandate as a natural step."


Above: Electric cars are growing in popularity all across Europe (Image: Ecomento)

That said, electric cars are showing significant growth in Europe. According to Vivian Zhou at the EVBOX blog, "Norway and The Netherlands are the undisputed kings of electric mobility. Together, they share a total number of over 240,000 electric vehicles on the road.... [and] half of all new vehicles in Norway are fully-electric or plug-in hybrids today. The Netherlands on the other hand, is the world’s most advanced in the implementation of electric public transportation and charging infrastructure."


Above: 2017 electric car incentives in Western Europe (Source: EVBOX Blog)

But it's not just Norway and the Netherlands, "in the wake of Paris Agreement, it’s become pretty obvious that Europe’s EV market does not just evolve around its northern nations anymore. Belgium, France, Germany, and the UK are all catching up on incentives to promote clean cars that’ll help them reach those stricter emission standards. For each country, we’ve listed the three most important incentives you’d want to know about." 


Though not much of an early adopter, Belgium is catching up... In 2016, the number of electric-car sales in Belgium almost tripled, and the number of charging points grew by 350% as compared to 2015.

  • Purchase grant: €4.000 grant in Flanders for private car owners.
  • Ownership tax: (Plug-in) electric vehicles are exempt from ownership tax in Flanders. They also pay the lowest rate of the annual ownership (circulation) tax (€74 instead of €1.900) in all three regions.
  • Company car tax: 120% for fully-electric vehicles, and 100% for vehicles emitting between 1 and 60 g/km of CO2 deductible from company expenses. Above 60 g/km, the deductibility rate decreases from 90% to 50%.


France made tremendous gains in electric-car numbers over the past few years. Going from less than 10,000 registered electric vehicles in 2012, to over 100,000 in 2016.

  • Purchase grant: If you swap your diesel (bought before 2016) for a fully-electric model, you’re eligible for €6.000 (environmental bonus) and €4.000 as a “thank-you for switching to electric”. If you swap your diesel (bought before 2016) with a plug-in hybrid, you’re eligible for €1.000 (environmental bonus) and €2.500 as a “thank-you for switching to electric”.
  • Ownership tax: Both fully-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are eligible for either a 50% discount or are exempt from the license plate tax depending on the province.
  • Company car tax: Fully-electric vehicles are exempt from this tax. Plug-in hybrids are exempt from the tax for two years.


The UK government pledged a £290m sum to boost the industry of low emission vehicles. £80m of this amount is dedicated to improving charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

  • Purchase grant: The Plug-In Car Grant covers 35% of the cost of a car (up to a maximum of £4,500 depending on the model) and 20% of the cost of a van, up to a maximum of £8,000. This is without doubt the important incentive for private vehicles in the UK. In some cases, it can reduce the total cost of electric vehicles below the cost of conventional cars! (More details)
  • Ownership tax: Fully-electric vehicles costing less than £40,000 are exempt from the annual road tax. (More details)
  • Company car tax: (Plug-in) electric vehicles emitting less than 50g/km of CO2 have their company car tax set at only 9% for 2017-18. 13% in 2018-19, and 16% in 2019-20. The tax on any diesel company car is 4-8% higher. (More details)


Home to the most beloved [and scandalous] combustion engine car manufacturers, Germany has been the slowest of the bunch in pushing pro-electric plans. But as of last year, Germany has adopted an incentive and investment program to encourage a switch to plug-in hybrids. Additionally, it has approved a push for a Europe-wide ban on combustion engine vehicles by 2030.

  • Purchase grant: €4,000 for fully-electric vehicles and €3,000 euros for plug-in hybrids. The grant applies only to cars up to a maximum list price of €60,000.
  • Ownership tax: 10 year exemption for fully-electric vehicles registered between 2011 and 2020. PHEVs pay the tax, which is lowered in proportion to their lower CO2.
  • Company car tax: 1% over the discounted car (battery) price. €300/kW (up to €8.000) discount on the list price for fully-electrics and plug-in hybrids in 2017. €250/kW (up to €7.500) discount on the list price for fully-electrics and plug-in hybrids in 2018.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands is planning to phase out all internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035. The Netherlands has
 the highest ratio between public charging points and electric vehicles. 47% of Dutch drivers often or always charge at work.

  • Purchase tax: Fully-electric vehicles and PHEVs are both exempt from this tax. PHEVs will need to pay additional fees based on the CO2 emitted. (More details)
  • Ownership tax: Fully-electric vehicles are exempt from this tax, while PHEVs get a 50% discount. High CO2 emitting vehicles of +12 years old, will need to pay another 15% on top of the tax starting 2019. (More details)
  • Company car tax: 4% for fully-electric vehicles only, 22% for both PHEVs and high CO2emitting vehicles. (More details)


Norway’s original goal was to have 100,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2020. As of last year, Norway has already exceeded this number, as there are now more than 121,000 electric vehicles on the Norwegian roads. Quite impressive for its relatively small population of just 6 million.

  • Purchase tax: No purchase tax and no VAT on purchase.
  • Ownership tax: NOK 455 is the annual road tax for both fully-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, as opposed to NOK 2.820 for petrol and NOK 3.290 for diesel cars.
  • Company car tax: 50% discount for both fully-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

Above: Why Norway is a leader in electric cars (Youtube: Financial Times)

And that's not all. According to Zhou, although there are nationwide incentives, many European cities actually "go a step further to get their citizens behind the electric wheel. This means that on top of your usual financial incentives, your electric car may be eligible for extra perks, depending on the city you live in or drive by: free public parking, exemption from toll charges, access to HOV lanes and bus lanes, exemption from ferry fees, [and] free charging on public charging points."


Sources: EVBOX Blog via EAFO / OLEV UK Government Grant / Eurostat Statistics Explained / Norwegian EV association / ICCT / RVO / EV Norway