|Battery costs are the largest hurdle for a successful market for electric vehicles, according to a VW presentation at the conference. Click to enlarge.|
The German federal government wants to take strong measures towards electric and hybrid vehicles in the next ten years, with the goal of putting one million electric (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles onto Germany’s roads by 2020. Germany currently has a car parc totalling about 46.1 million vehicles, according to figures published by the European Automobile Manufacturers’s Association (ACEA), with a total vehicle fleet of around 49.7 million as of 2006.
The plan, announced during a German national strategy conference on electric mobility (Nationale Strategiekonferenz Elektromobilität) held in Berlin earlier this week, was drafted jointly by the departments of Economics, Transport, Environment, and Education & Research. It will be finalized and put into legislation early next year.
In his keynote speech, the German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel announced, “Germany shall become a lead market for electric mobility.” His colleague, Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee, added, “By proving electricity from renewable sources for transport, we can succeed in creating sustainable and climate friendly mobility for the future.” Dagmar Wöhrl, Undersecretary of state with the Economics department, pointed out the opportunity to gain economic independence from oil imports, and Thomas Rachel, representing the Economics and Research department drew attention the chances for strengthening Germany in the domain of battery research and production.
Referring to tax breaks in France and the US, Matthias Wissmann, the president of the German Association of Automakers (VDA) said that “A broad introduction of electric mobility requires providing incentives that promote a change of the power train technique and that make the additional cost of the battery acceptable to the buyer.”
Some 600 participants, mostly executives from German automakers, suppliers, utilities, research institutions, and NGOs attended the conference which had been organized by VDI/VDE-IT. German automakers presented their recently announced electric and hybrid vehicles, such as the BMW Mini E (earlier post), the Daimler E-Smart (earlier post), and the Volkswagen Golf Twin Drive (earlier post).
Furthermore, lightweight vehicles like the two seated TWIKE, and a battery powered light duty commercial vehicle by EcoCraft were shown. Prior to the conference, BMW and the utility company Vattenfall had announced to cooperate in bringing 50 Mini-E to the German capital, and in setting up the required charging infra-structure in spring next year.
In June, the German government and industry partners launched the “Fleet test: electric drive vehicles” (“Flottenversuch Elektromobilität”), a four-year PHEV fleet and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) demonstration project. Volkswagen AG is leading the project, with E.ON (energy provider) and LTC/GAIA and Evonik/Li-Tec (lithium-ion battery providers) as principal partners. (earlier post.) Also contributing from the research side are Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Heidelberg Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (Ifeu), the German Center for Aerospace Technology (DLR), and the Westphalian Wilhelms University at Münster.
The government is also supporting the Lithium Ionen Batterie LIB 2015 (Lithium-Ion Battery LIB 2015) consortium which includes Evonik, Li-Tec, Bosch, BASF, and VW. The consortium is investing €360 million (US$455 million) for research and development of lithium-ion batteries. This will be supplemented by €60 million (US$93 million) in funding from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) over the next three years. (Earlier post.)