When Germany introduced its new plan to boost electric vehicle adoption through new incentives, including a €4,000 discount at the purchase, Tesla claimed that they were purposely left out of the program because of a cap for vehicles with a starting price of less than 60,000 € negotiated by the government and the German auto industry.
Now Tesla managed to find a way to get access to the incentive through unbundling several features on its cars and significantly reducing the base price.
Tesla is not necessarily wrong in the sense that yes, the government did negotiate with German automakers to build the EV incentive program since both public money and the automakers are paying for it, but nothing concrete points toward the 60,000 € cap being directly aimed at Tesla other than the fact that it only affects its vehicles.
At the time, Tesla wrote:
[the plan] was drawn up jointly with the Chairman of the German automobile manufacturers and the relevant ministries.
Unfortunately, it was decided that Model S and Model X customers wouldn’t benefit from this promotion, because what they call ‘premium’ is linked to an arbitrary price limit. This part of the program is obviously directed against Tesla.”
The automaker has since started introducing vehicles with software-locked battery capacity that can be unlocked later at a price. That significantly reduced the base price of the Model S, but it was still over 5,000 € too expensive since the 60,000 € cap is before taxes.
But this week, just as CEO Elon Musk announced the acquisition of a German engineering firm and new investments in the country, Tesla went a step further and updated its German online configurator for the Tesla Model S to unbundle some features that are standard in any other market and also previously were in Germany.
All those features were placed in an optional 5,200 € “Confort Package”:
We are talking about features like navigation, backup camera, internet radio, blind spot assist, and some very basic features like memory functions for seat positions, folding mirrors, Homelink connection.
There’s even a feature called “performance reduction to 80%”. The specs appear to be the same whether you select the option or not so we asked Tesla for more details about it and we will update if we get an answer.
Without the “Comfort Package”, the Model S starts just below the 60,000 € cap for the €4,000 EV incentives. Of course, it’s safe to assume that most people will go ahead and purchase the package.
It’s a clever loophole for Tesla to let its customers have access to the incentive while having little to no impact to its average sale price in Germany.
The timing of the move is also interesting since Tesla announced the acquisition of a German company this week and during a conference call with journalists following the announcement, CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla plans to invest significantly in the country and to partly become a “German company”.