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Is Germany warming up to electric cars?

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Michael Sohn/AP

(Read caption) German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Although Germany has a large domestic car industry, the country's government hasn't been as aggressive as other European countries on promoting electric cars. But, that could soon change.

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Several European countries – including Norway, The Netherlands, and France – aggressively promote electric cars as a way to reduce vehicular carbon emissions.

But despite its large domestic car industry, Germany is not among them.

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German government support for electric cars has been lukewarm at best, but now it appears that could change soon.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government is examining further support for electric cars, and will make a decision before the end of the year, according to Reuters.

"We will once again study all instruments of support that are available internationally," the chancellor said at an electric-car conference in Berlin Monday.

That likely means cash rebates or tax breaks for new electric-car purchases, something Merkel has discussed before but not taken any action on so far.

 Germany does not provide rebates for the purchase of new electric cars, although it does give owners tax breaks.

The government has also allocated 1.5 billion euros (nearly $1.7 billion) to research into related technologies to date.

In addition, legislation was introduced last September that would give electric-car owners free parking and access to bus lanes.

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A scheme was also introduced last year to install 400 charging stations at rest stops on Germany's famous autobahns, augmenting an existing network of just under 5,000 stations.

 The German government should consider "temporary start-up funding" to help jump start electric-car sales, Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche said at the conference. Another, unnamed industry official advocated incentivizing electric company cars.

All of these measures are meant to help Germany meet a previously-set goal of putting 1 million plug-in cars on its roads by 2020.

The industry will need all of the incentives it can get, because Germany is a long way from meeting that goal.

Only about 19,000 electric cars were sold there in 2014. With just five years to go, Germany's electric-car goal edges closer to the impossible everyday.


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