Romania doubles electric-car subsidies, adds 'cash for clunkers' program

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Cash for Clunkers banner with Mercury Sable, Albany, New York

Cash for Clunkers banner with Mercury Sable, Albany, New York

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In recent years, governments have increasingly worked to encourage the sales of plug-in electric vehicles.

Incentive programs for the purchase of a low-emission vehicle have been adopted across the world.

The amounts granted and the mechanisms vary according to the individual program, but the goal is the same: reduce emissions.

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Romania is no exception and now, according to The Quebec Times, the country has recently doubled its incentives for the purchase of plug-in electric cars.

In comparison, the U.S. federal government grants a federal income-tax credit of up to $7,500, combined with state tax credits or purchase rebates that can go as high as $6,000.

In Romania, the program first launched in 2011, when consumers were offered up to 3,700 euros (close to $4,000) in incentives.

Shell fuel station in Europe

Shell fuel station in Europe

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Despite the incentives, the most recent European Alternative Fuel Observatory report notes that only about 160 plug-in electric cars were registered in Romania last year.

In recent years, traffic-related pollution has risen, consistently putting the country’s capital among the most polluted cities in Europe.

That prompted last year's launch of the so-called Rabla program, increasing the rebate to as much as 5,000 euros ($5,500).

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This year, the Romanian government announced even more aggressive incentives with a Rabla Plus program that will extend until 2019.

It will now contribute up to 11,000 euros ($12,000) towards the purchase of a zero-emission vehicle.

Buyers of conventional hybrid vehicles (without a plug) will receive a more modest 1,450-euro contribution.

Chrome exhaust pipe

Chrome exhaust pipe

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Local media Economica.net projects that up to 100,000 Romanians will take advantage of the higher rebates.

Like many other European countries, Romania has also created a scrappage program to encourage owners to replace the oldest, highest-emission vehicle with cleaner ones.

The program launched in 2005 and it too was modified in 2014, doubling its incentives.

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This year, an extra premium has been added when an old, high-polluting vehicle is traded for an electric one.

However, the Romanian government is facing a similar challenge in promoting electric cars to one in the U.S.

The lack of charging infrastructure has put a damper on buyers’ enthusiasm—and it's far worse in the smaller country.

Greenspot electric-car charging station

Greenspot electric-car charging station

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A program to boost the number of charging stations was launched in 2011 with very little success. Five years later, a mere 10 stations were up and running.

Last year, the government launched a new program to support the installation of charging stations in certain public institutions.

Its goal is to grow their network to at least 20,000 charging points by 2020.

— Sabrina Giacomini

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