How large is the effect of financial incentives on electric vehicle sales? – A global review and European analysis
Journal article, 2019

Plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), both as battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles have noteworthy potential to reduce global and local emissions. However, several barriers still hinder a fast market diffusion of this new technology. Governments around the world have implemented monetary and non-monetary policies to accelerate PEV market diffusion. Their effectiveness is established in the literature, yet the effect size has been only scarcely estimated empirically and only for the US. Here, we review econometric studies on the effect size of purchase incentives and analyse data on PEV sales from 32 European countries from 2010 to 2017 with respect to the effect of financial incentives. We apply panel data regressions and control for other factors such as income and fuel prices. We find energy prices and financial incentives to influence PEV adoption positively. The range of point estimates for the effect of incentives is 5–7% relative sales share increase in different model specifications. Methodologically, the inclusion of a trend variable proved important to capture overall changes in the diffusion of this new technology. Our findings indicate that financial incentives have an impact on PEV sales and thus can facilitate their diffusion.

Technology adoption

Tax credit

Electric vehicles

Electric vehicles



Christiane Münzel

Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI

Patrick Plötz

Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI

Frances Sprei

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

T. Gnann

Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI

Energy Economics

0140-9883 (ISSN) 1873-6181 (eISSN)

Vol. 84 104493

Subject Categories

Economic History


Energy Systems



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