Government Confirms Targets at Berlin International Electromobility Conference

At an international electromobility conference in Berlin the government confirmed its targets of making Germany a leading market for electric cars and a leading supplier of  electromobility technology, with one million electric cars on Germany’s roads by 2020. Yet Germany still has a long way to go, having roughly 8,500 electric cars on its roads today. Hence media reports criticised the slow progress.

The four competent ministries (Economics, Environment, Transport and Research) pointed out the importance of electromobility for Germany regarding the environment and the economy. “Without electromobility transportation will lose drive in the long-run. If driving is not to become a luxury in twenty years’ time, we need an alternative to fuel, not only for reasons of climate protection.” Federal Minister for Research Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka focused on the important aspect of research, saying “For electromobility, we have to rethink cars. Research into new more efficient batteries, significantly more efficient drive systems as well as further training for engineers and skilled workers is essential. Support of R&D will jump-start innovation.”

Electromobility is not supported by government grants for electric cars in Germany. An important aspect of government support is the “Showcase Electromobility” programme (Schaufenster Elektromobilität), which supports regional demonstration and pilot projects and provides funding of EUR 180 million over a three-year period. Overall support for electromobility was too uncoordinated as four ministries had competences for electromobility and many different projects were supported with rather small amounts of money, the newspaper Handelsblatt criticised, saying 204 projects received supported of on average EUR 294,000 per year. A good overview on the various federal and regional support programmes and the competences of the four ministries is provided here.

The magazine Spiegel said measures that suggested itself and did not cost much money were bogged down in bureaucracy. A amendment of the Road Traffic Act (StVO) in favour of special driving lanes and parking space was not in sight. Tax incentives for electric company cars were being discussed, yet it was unclear when they would become law.

Henning Kagermann, chairman of the steering committee of the National Electromobility Initiative, which organised the conference in Berlin, told the media that he considered the target of 1 million electric cars on German roads feasible. Electromobility need careful preparation, he said when asked why other countries were farther ahead with electromobility. Market growth would be not linear, but exponential, Mr Kagermann said. It would certainly gain speed with 16 new models that the German car makers, intended to launch in the coming year. The Electromobility Initiative would present an activity plan for all the areas relating to electromobility in autumn, Mr Kagermann announced.

A quote by Mr Kagermann published in FAZ reveals the factors which need to come together to make the electromobility goal for 2020 achievable. The price of batteries had to come down, petrol costs had to rise and the electricity price had to remain stable, then electric cars would be an attractive option for consumers despite the higher acquisition costs and the lower range of electric cars, Mr Kagermann said. While petrol costs will most probably rise over the next years, falling battery costs are likely, but at least the extent not certain, and electricity costs have steadily risen in Germany over the past years, not least as a consequence of the energy policy towards renewable and fixed feed-in tariffs for renewable energy. So far the political parties have not agreed on measures to rein in electricity costs.

Source: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety; Handelsblatt; Spiegel; Manager Magazin

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