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German Environment Minister buys a Tesla Model S, takes a swipe at domestic automakers in the process


German government officials most often use German cars as their official vehicles since the German auto industry is one of the country’s most important industries and a source of national pride. That’s why it made the national news this week when the German Environment Minister for North Rhine-Westphalia bought a Tesla Model S as his official car.

The fact that it’s an American car isn’t the main focus. The 110,340 euros ($115,000) price tag is not helping public opinion, as the vehicle has been ordered with public money through the Ministry of the Environment.

When German newspaper Bild asked a spokesperson for the ministry why Environment Minister Johannes Remmel approved the purchase of the expensive vehicle, they responded that the Model S was the only electric vehicle with enough range to enable travel in the large state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

In the process, they highlighted the unfortunate fact that there are no long-range electric vehicles currently available from Germany’s big three automakers: Daimler, BMW, and Volkswagen.

As we reported earlier this week, that’s about to change with several vehicles in development.

The paper also balked at the fact that they went with one of the most expensive versions of the Model S, the Model S 90D, but it’s also one of the versions with the most range.

It’s not the first time this year that the price of Tesla’s vehicles has been in the center of a little controversy in Germany.

When Germany introduced its new plan to boost electric vehicle adoption through new incentives, including a 4,000 € discount at 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.

Since the cap was only for the starting price of the car, Tesla later unbundled a bunch of basic options of the Model S in order for its customers to get access to EV incentives in Germany. But through that loophole, even Tesla’s top-of-the-line $120,000+ Model S P100D had access to the discount since it’s technically just a different configuration of the Model S, which now had a starting price under 60,000 €. The government was accused of financing vehicles for the rich.

Technically, the Ministry of the Environment should get access to the 4,000 € discount for their Model S and therefore, the German automakers are partly paying for the vehicle since they are contributing to the fund to finance the incentive.

Tesla has been investing more heavily in Germany lately with the acquisition of a German engineering firm to create ‘Tesla Advanced Automation Germany’. During the announcement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the automaker is partly becoming a “German company.”

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