Challenges in Emobility in 2010 and beyond

The current (political) conditions and regulations (taxation, subsidies, cooperation initiatives) do not keep up with the speedy development. They lack focus, address only early research issues (and not the initiation of markets), show gaps on key issues and are insufficient for a continuous development of e-mobility in Germany particularly in the face of international competition.


 

STANDARDIZATION. Standards and Norms ease the planning of new projects in the vehicles as well as infrastructure segment, thus enabling the successful market penetration of e-mobility. Current initiatives of industry cover e.g. the standardization of plugs. However, key aspects in the overall system remain unaddressed and open questions persist. This concerns issues in vehicle-, batteries- and infrastructure-integration as well as vehicle security issues, such as missing criteria for the recurring safety checks on electric and hybrid vehicles or open issues regarding the the use of high-voltage electrochemical storage systems in vehicles. 

 

TAXATION. EVs are exempt from vehicle taxes for the initial five years of registration. However, this is a very small amount of money compared to the initial cost of the vehicles at current battery prices. To create additional incentives to purchase EVs, additional support is currently discussed. Depending on the primary energy source mix EV create between 0 and 90 g/km CO2. Tax incentives to foster the use of renewable energies for EVs to create a true zero emission vehicle are still lacking and yet to be defined.

 

SUBSIDIES. The current subsidies provided on the national and federal state level exclusively focus on R&D. Companies, which developed market ready solutions for vehicles or infrastructure on their own in the past, do not profit at all from these public subsidies. On a pathway to sustainable business models and to foster innovativeness this is unacceptable and requires rectifications.

On the side of the potential vehicle customers, high investment costs for batteries forecasted to significantly shrink in the near future, create uncertainty and provide rather an incentive to delay purchases. This also needs to be addressed through public support.

 

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY. In contrast to the implementation of bio fuels, which required fairly insignificant changes in vehicles to be implemented, the changeover from an ICE (Internal combustion engine) to an electric drive train is a major change for automotive players. The battery as the „tank of the EV“ and as the key technology for successful EVs currently claims a huge share of the overall cost of an electric vehicle, thus being the main stumbling block for future market penetration. Historically a leader in this area and the underlying electro-chemistry, Germany today has fallen far behind its Asian competitors.

Thus Germany faces, although being a leader in global competition for the combustion engine, a historical challenge in maintaining its international position in the automotive sector. 

 

ENERGY STORAGE. Storage and opportunities for back feeding energy to the grid,  create additional benefits for future large scale e-mobility concepts and the wide spread replacement of fossile fuel energy plants through renewable energy sources. However, the implementation of a wide spread Vehicle-to-Grid-System requires the prior development of billing- and monitoring systems, large permanently available and addressable storage capacities (i.e. high numbers of vehicles actually being connected to the grid) and intelligent accumulators and battery management systems. In all these areas massive development needs remain yet unanswered.

 

INFRASTRUCTURE. The wide spread use of e-mobility requires a matching infrastructure to supply its energy needs. This includes the availability of charging stations as well as a service infrastructure for the maintenance of the vehicles.. While initially home charging will be the dominant device the mid-term perspective requires also a corresponding public charging infrastructure. A multitude of legal and technical issues such as open access to charging stations and the use of energy providers of the users choice through a public charging station as well as metering of power recharged to the grid need to be resolved.