We evaluate German purchase subsidies for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) using data on new vehicle registrations in Germany during 2015-2022. We account for confounding time trends and interacting EU-level CO2 standards using neighboring countries as a control group. The program was cost-ineffective, as only 40% of BEV and 25% of PHEV registrations were subsidy-induced, and had strong distributional effects, with greater uptake in wealthier and greener counties. The implied abatement cost of 870 euro per ton of CO2 for BEVs and 2,470 euro for PHEVs suggests that subsidies to PHEVs were especially cost-ineffective.
Keywords: Decarbonizing road transport, electric mobility, purchase subsidies, policy effectiveness, distributional effects of climate policy