|EVs for use by Michelin and Siemens staffers in the project. (Photo: Sandra Göttisheim) Click to enlarge.|
Michelin and Siemens, in cooperation with research partners at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, are launching a project to demonstrate that the total cost of electric vehicles can be less than that of a conventional combustion-engined car. In January 2013, the consortium was promised funding by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Development (BMVBS) under the Baden-Württemberg LivingLab BWe mobil showcase project.
The three-year, nearly €2-million (US$2.6 million) project will be funded by the BMVBF and the project partners at a ratio of 50:50.
Michelin and Siemens staff commute frequently between their German and French facilities in conventional vehicles. However, an electric vehicle may ultimately prove to be less expensive, even given the higher initial purchase cost, as every kilometer driven electrically costs less than driving on gasoline or diesel fuel.
Under the project, electric vehicles will be used by Michelin staff commuting from Alsace to the Michelin factory in Karlsruhe. Siemens staff members will use an electric instead of a gasoline-based vehicle for their trips between the factories in Karlsruhe and Haguenau, France (about 65 km, 40 miles). In both cases, utilization of the vehicles is planned to be increased, such that the electric vehicle will be less expensive than the reference car with a combustion engine at the end of the project.
If electric mobility is to be successful in Europe, it has to be economically efficient. We are looking for applications in which electric vehicles are cheaper than a reference car with a combustion engine. If the vehicle is used often, costs can be reduced considerably and the high purchasing price is compensated.—Dr. Olaf Wollersheim, head of the RheinMobil showcase project at KIT
Reaching the project objectives will require smart operation strategies for the vehicles, charging stations at the right places, and driver education, the partners said. Fraunhofer ISI and KIT have already studied user expectations and commercialization obstacles and know that factors such as high costs, small ranges, and limited availability of charging infrastructure deter people from using electric vehicles.
A new company—e-MotionLine—established by KIT graduates will supply vehicles for the project.
We take care of the selection of economically most efficient vehicles, coordinate the charging infrastructure, and train the users in using this new technology.—Max Nastold, managing director of e-MotionLine
For the recharging infrastructure, the RheinMobil partners will cooperate closely with the CROss-border Mobility for EVs (CROME) project funded by several German and French ministries.
In April 2012, the federal government selected four regions in Germany as “electric mobility showcases”. In these regions, research and development of alternative drive trains are funded according to the decision made by German parliament. The RheinMobil project is one of about 40 projects in the Baden-Württemberg “LivingLab BWe mobil” electric mobility showcase.
In the Baden-Württemberg “LivingLab BWe mobil” showcase, more than 100 partners from industry, science, and public institutions are studying electric mobility in practice. The projects concentrate on the region of Stuttgart and the city of Karlsruhe. The projects address aspects of intermodality, fleets, commercial transport, infrastructure and energy, urban and traffic planning, vehicle technology, communication, and participation as well as training and qualification. “LivingLab BWe mobil” is coordinated by the State Agency for Electric Mobility and Fuel Cell Technology e-mobil BW GmbH and the Stuttgart Regional Economic Development Corporation (WRS).