Why a German minister's new Tesla is raising eyebrows

Given Germany's considerable investment in its auto industry, using a German car seems almost obligatory for government officials. Yet one environment minister is causing a stir by challenging that tradition.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP
Men look at the Tesla Model X during the media day of the 95th European Motor Show in Brussels on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.

Government officials in Germany seeking to express national pride in their choice of vehicle have no shortage of options.

The established German luxury brands offer many models that frequently serve in the capacity of official vehicle for an elected official.

Indeed, given Germany's considerable investment in its auto industry, using a German car seems almost obligatory.

But one environment minister thinks otherwise.

Johannes Remmel—environment minister for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia—recently took delivery of a Tesla Model S for use as his official car.

That decision is proving controversial, according to German newspaper Bild (via Charged EVs).

This is partly due to the expectation that government officials drive German cars, but Remmel indicated that no domestic manufacturers offered a car that met his needs.

Remmel wanted an electric car, and said the Model S was the only one with enough range to allow him to travel around the state of North Rhine-Westphalia easily.

His decision was also criticized because of the high purchase price of the Model S—reported at 110,430 euros ($115,000).

That price indicates Remmel purchased a higher-end model, as Tesla recently tweaked its German pricing to ensure at least some versions of the Model S started below 60,000 euros ($64,000).

That's because electric-car incentives introduced by Germany last year don't apply to cars costing more than that amount.

Buyers of lower-priced electric cars can qualify for a 4,000-euro ($4,280) rebate under the incentive program.

As electric-car sales increase, more consideration is being given toward how incentives are targeted.

California now has income caps for its electric-car incentives, instituted in the hope that more incentive money will be directed toward consumers for whom a purchase rebate could make or break their decision to buy an electric car.

Right now, Tesla is likely more affected by the California income cap and German price cap than other automakers.

But established German luxury brands Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche have all announced plans for high-end, long-range luxury electric cars over the next few years.

At least Minister Remmel will have more choices the next time he needs a new electric car.

To date, no top U.S. government officials are known to drive Teslas, although the new president is said to have owned one in the past.

This story originally appeared on GreenCarReports.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.