Electric cars slow to gain traction in Germany

May 28, 2013 by Estelle Peard
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) looks at a Mercedes E-drive electric car during the Electric Mobility conference on May 27, 2013. Germany plans to have one million electric vehicles on its roads by 2020, but so far that goal seems remote.

Germany plans to have one million electric vehicles on its roads by 2020, but so far that goal seems remote as the nation's motorists have shown little love for the quietly humming vehicles.

So far, the number of registered in Germany is just some 7,000.

Chancellor put on a brave face in light of the statistics, speaking Monday at a government-organised international forum in Berlin, where she affirmed that she is a believer in .

"Our plans are ambitious," she conceded about the one-million goal pronounced by her government in 2009. "But we have a good chance of sticking to the timetable."

Her government has spent almost 1.5 billion euros ($1.9 billion) to subsidise research and development in electric mobility and is promoting the models by scrapping car registration tax for the first 10 years.

However, unlike neighbouring France, Germany does not offer bonuses for the purchase of electric vehicles.

produce no exhaust pipe emissions and can help clear the air in congested cities, while their ultimately depends on the type of energy used to charge their batteries.

Problems so far include the high cost of the batteries, usually lithium-ion types, and limited networks of charging stations, which make drivers fear being left on the side of the road with dead batteries.

After Japan's 2011 Merkel rang in an ambitious away from fossil fuels and nuclear power toward renewables such as wind, solar and biofuels.

A Smart Forvision concept car is pictured at the Electric Mobility conference in Berlin on May 27, 2013. Germany has spent almost 1.5 billion euros to subsidise research and development in electric mobility and is promoting the models by scrapping car registration tax for the first 10 years.

Speaking on Monday, she said the push for electric cars would dovetail with that plan, to ensure that the power that drives electric cars is produced from clean, .

She said electric cars could be a "core sector of our industrial production", with the making up one quarter of Germany's exports.

But so far Germans, used to putting their gas pedals to the floor on the famous autobahn highways, have been slow to accept electric cars.

In the first four months of the year, only about 1,500 electric cars were newly registered, after a total of about 3,000 last year. There are also 65,000 registered hybrid vehicles with both electric and fuel engines.

Henning Kagermann, coordinator of the Platform for Electric Mobility that evaluates the electric car strategy, said that, under current conditions, 600,000 electric vehicles is a more realistic figure for 2020.

"Electromobility is treading water," said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the automotive research centre of the University of Duisburg-Essen.

He said so far the market share of electric and hybrid cars is just 0.13 percent, calling it "less than a niche of a niche market".

But proponents say the boom is just around the corner.

Visitors look at an Audi F12 concept car during the Electric Mobility conference on May 27, 2013 in Berlin. Electric cars produce no exhaust pipe emissions and can help clear the air in congested cities.

German carmakers plan to launch about 15 electric car models by late 2014, with plans to move into mass production by 2017.

Over the next three to four years, German industry is set to invest about 12 billion euros to develop alternative fuel engines.

VW chief Martin Winterkorn—whose company this year launches its new electric Golf—said at the weekend that the government must help by improving infrastructure, such as a network of charging stations and incentives such as electric-car-only lanes.

In comments to the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, he said the one-million goal was realistic if prices fall with mass production, adding: "I am convinced that that can happen."

Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer also insisted "the government sees no reason to step back from the goal of one million electric cars by 2020. The first steps are usually the hardest, but sales will increase rapidly."

Philippe Varin, chief executive of PSA Peugeot Citroen, said "it will be a gradual process over 10 years" to convince consumers to embrace first hybrids and plug-in hybrids and finally 100 percent electric vehicles.

Explore further: Ambitious EU targets for renewable energies make economic sense

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Benni
1.5 / 5 (8) May 28, 2013
Roller skates at WalMart are a lot cheaper......
CreepyD
3 / 5 (2) May 28, 2013
If people are to spend more to buy a car, then it has to be 'better' to average Joe - it's nothing to do with whether it's electric or not.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) May 28, 2013
How would they recharge the electric vehicles?

They're pushing all their money into renewable solar energy, which peaks at midday, whereas the peak period for recharging electric vehicles is midnight. It's just making the supply-demand disrepancy worse.

antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) May 28, 2013
If people are to spend more to buy a car, then it has to be 'better' to average Joe

Better is a very relative term. It has to be a car that satisfies the demand you make of it
(For example if you've been using a big car just to commute then you don't need a bigger car - a smaller one would probably be just as adequate).

That said I've been shopping around a lot for EVs in the past two years. Currenty they don't satisfy the demand I make of them (and those that do are so hugely overpriced that it's not even funny. I earn quite decently - but, dear god: who do they think can afford EVs at those prices? CEOs...maybe.)

whereas the peak period for recharging electric vehicles is midnight.

For commuters it would be quite nice if the big employers were to provide charging stations. That way peak production and peak recharge time would match better.

But as always: 'Storage' is the key word for a 100% switchover to alternative energy.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) May 28, 2013
Okay zephyr - you might have at least READ the links you posted.

First link:
Our results clearly indicate that it is counterproductive to promote EVs in areas where electricity is primarily produced from lignite, coal, or even heavy oil combustion.

Duh.

Second link:
What were you driving before? How is your electricity generated? And how many other electric cars are going to be sold?

Duh.

Third link:
the electricity generated by power stations to drive electric vehicles led to more fine particle emissions than petrol-powered transport
Duh.

All your links amount to are: if we don't produce our energy cleanly then EVs will pollute.
Well: Duh.

The whole POINT about EVs (or hydrogen fuel cells) is that you can then change over to clean energy production - which you can't if you keep using gasoline powered ones.

EVs alone don't cut it. Clean power alone doesn't cut it (as much) - but if both go hand in hand things look mighty fine.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) May 28, 2013
For Germany as a whole the net economical effects count

Not just for germany - for everyone.

BUT economy isn't the be all/end all of things.
A nation isn't just it's economy (however much you may think that) it's the people and their future. And going for the (current) least cost path will mean
- lower air quality (and its medical ramifications)
- lower quality of life
- effects on global warming (and the costs that are incurred if we stick to fossil fuels which will just mount up in the future)

So even from an economical sense - thinking about future expenditures - it makes sense to switch over. But a lot more so from the "we want a better future" standpoint (which everyone should have!)

The mere dollar value of an EV vs. a regular car isn't the entire story (and if you think it is then you're missing what life is all about).
italba
3.7 / 5 (3) May 28, 2013
Let make things clear: the electromobiles and another "green technologies" are pushed with lobby of researchers and manufactures

Do you really think that traditional car makers didn't ever paid a dime for lobbying? Why do you think GM didn't go on with EV1 and Saturn and started selling those horrible SUVs? Who you have to tank if American car builders are 20 years behind European, Japanese and Korean ones?
Which is particularly relevant for Germany

Go to see the renewable energy produced in Germany.
the whole electromobile stuff gives no meaning in both absolute, both relative perspective and its net effect remains negative. It's just expensive toy.

That is YOURS (and FoxNews) opinion! Just cherry-picking some data doesn't build a proof!
Eikka
1 / 5 (3) May 28, 2013
For commuters it would be quite nice if the big employers were to provide charging stations. That way peak production and peak recharge time would match better.


Unfortunately most of traffic also happens during the day. It's not the commuters that are responsible for the most traffic, but utility vehicles, taxis, delivery vehicles, people moving from place to place to conduct their business and leisure etc.

For example: http://ars.els-cd...-gr1.gif
http://www.scienc...9800058X

From the chart it's clearly visible that in this particular sample, there's a lull in traffic volume in between the commuter peaks, but the traffic volume only goes down about 20% which means that there's a huge number of cars driving around just when you're supposed to be recharging them with solar energy, and these cars are responsible for most of the energy use.

Recharging at work helps, but not as much as you'd think.
Eikka
1 / 5 (3) May 28, 2013
And when you look at the availability of solar power: http://www.ilsr.o...h_v2.jpg

It becomes clear that the best solar energy production time simply overlaps with the traffic, and the cars largely don't have the opportunity to recharge when power is available.

Now, the story is different if you use molten salts to shift the solar energy production to later hours, as is visible here: http://ars.els-cd...-gr3.jpg

But that implies not photovoltaics, but concentrating solar power which is not what Germany is subsidizing. In terms of the electric car issue, they're betting on the wrong horse.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) May 28, 2013
When looking at energy consumption from electricity you then have to look at the total usage, since there are more electricity consumers than just EVs.

BTW: Storage is a vital part of a total changeover. (as I, and every proponent of renewables world-wide, has said over and over again). So by continually ignoring that and acting as if no one ever thinks of that you're not really making a point with anything you say.

It's rather tedious. Like the people arguing that EVs are durty because the MUST be charged from current coal powerplants forever. It's a non-argument.
italba
1 / 5 (2) May 28, 2013
@Eikka, You keep repeating the same old story based on wrong statements.
1) Germany doesn't have (and will never have) 100% of its energy from solar. Wind, hydroelectric, natural gas, and, until phased out, nuclear and coal have no problem running at night.
2) At night there is a minimum of energy needed by houses, offices, marts, most factories.
3) Utility vehicles can be easily equipped with swappable batteries.
4) City parkings could act as recharge points.
And, at last, electric cars will not even reach the 5% of NEW cars until 2020, in the best case!
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) May 29, 2013
So by continually ignoring...

It's rather disingenuous for you to complain about me ignoring storage when I'm the one who usually points out how much of it you actually need. Remember the hydraulic mountain debate?

Come back when you actually have storage. So far large scale storage systems are a pipedream, aside the few existing hydroelectric systems.

You keep repeating the same old...

Germany is making a huge push in solar energy, and plans to make a significant portion of its energy out of photovoltaics. I'm just saying that electric cars and solar energy are not very compatible because of very different use patterns, and that's going to be a large issue regardless.

As for your points, they're mostly "it's not a problem yet" - but it will be, and battery swapping is a non-starter because having multiple batteries per car hugely inflates the price.
italba
1 / 5 (2) May 29, 2013
Germany is making a huge push in solar energy, and plans to make a significant portion of its energy out of photovoltaics. .... As for your points, they're mostly "it's not a problem yet" - but it will be, and battery swapping is a non-starter because having multiple batteries per car hugely inflates the price

Not only "it's not a problem yet", it will not be a problem ever! When Germany will approach a "significant portion" of his energy from photovoltaics (how much? 50%? Neither in the wildest dreams...) you can be sure that mass energy storage will be feasible and cost effective. Anyway, even 1/3 or 1/4 of non photovoltaic energy can be enough, in minimum energy request hours, to recharge every vehicle. About the batteries: If you divide a big battery in two little ones, I don't think the costs will be so much inflated. And the vehicle, with a lighter battery, will go further!
Howhot
5 / 5 (1) May 29, 2013
@antialias_physorg said:
The whole POINT about EVs (or hydrogen fuel cells) is that you can then change over to clean energy production - which you can't if you keep using gasoline powered ones.


And by any ones calculation there is only about 44 years of oil left. Probably less if you begin to consider the pricing pressures the market will push when only 20 years of oil is left.