In Germany governments, the public and the car industry are developing an appetite for e-mobility. But with the momentum gaining, Chancellor Angela Merkel hits the brakes by announcing Germany will not achieve its policy goals in time. Although no surprise, it’s the wrong point at the wrong time.
Edwin Bestebreurtje, Partner
Angela Merkel has a reputation for being as unsurprising as possible. But this week she made an exception to her usual style, which even inspired Germans to invent the verb ‘merkeln’ which means ‘to be unable to take decisions or give your own opinions’.
Last Wednesday the German Chancellor announced she didn’t believe anymore in the ambition to put one million electric cars on the German roads by 2020. To achieve this, the national government of Germany announced in July 2016 a subsidy programme. Buyers of an electric car would get a 4.000 euro price reduction, co-funded by the government and the industry.
By the end of 2016 about 35.000 electric cars were sold. Of course, from the start it was clear the target set was ambitious and would have to be revised at some point. But with her announcement Merkel gives municipalities an argument to slow down their efforts to facilitate electric cars. This is a problem, because as developers and operators of public charging stations - and in many German cities also owners of the power grid - local governments are key players in the transition to sustainable mobility.
As the programme manager of E-Mobility Partners I am invited by BayernInnovativ to give a presentation in Regensburg on 22 May 2017 about shared electric mobility to an audience of representatives of municipalities. And this week a reporter of one of the big German TV organisations asked me to help him with his research for an item about electric mobility. Knowing by experience the Germans are developing an appetite for e-mobility, it’s hard to understand Merkel’s announcement. Especially when you realise the success of the ‘Energiewende’ Germany strives for, also needs the batteries of electric cars.
Living Lab Smart Charging
FIER Automotive recently became partner of Living Lab Smart Charging, a programme showcasing the Netherlands as a ‘living lab’ for the development of smart charging solutions such as vehicle-to-grid technology. This technology allows grid operators to store energy in vehicle batteries and re-use it for houses or offices, eventually creating one large decentralised power station. In addition, storing energy in car batteries flattens out the power peaks of sustainable sources such as solar panels and wind turbines, which cuts costs and reduces the risk of blackouts.
Merkel may have tuned down her policy goals this week, the German car industry did the exact opposite. All German top brands – BMW, Mercedes and Audi – announced extra investments in electric cars and for the next three years the releases of new electric models.