Bye bye Mobilityweek, hello Klimagipfel

The European Mobilityweek was celebrated in almost 2000 cities with a huge number of events: concerts, workshops, discussions and several hands-one opportunities.  It was the main goal of the organizers to make people getting excited about sustainable mobility and to make the thinking about how they can be mobile without causing a negative impact on the environment. The planning on local, regional and national level for Mobilityweek 2015 have already begun – the organizers a looking for even better ways to strengthen peoples support for sustainable mobility and to promote new ways of thinking.

Demo at New York

Demo at New York

The end of Mobilityweek 2014 was the start of the UN Climate Summit where 120 heads of state meet in New York. The summit is the biggest meeting of its kind since the Copenhagen Summit. “Every state needs to have a clear vision on how it will contribute to achieve our common goal to stop the climate change”, said UN chief secretary Ban. “The more time we waste now, the more we have to pay in the future.” Most experts do not expect many results from this summit – most insiders hope that New York will have a positive impact on the summits in Lima and Paris where the decision makers will work on a new agreement for 2020 which will force the nations to agree to severe commitments and promises to fight the climate change.

Oversubsidised – Overexerted: Is e-mobility ready for the market?

The goal of the German federal government to get 1 million electric cars on the streets by 2020 is getting more and more criticized as today´s numbers are disillusioning: On January 1st 2014 there have been officially 12.000 electric cars registered in Germany. Norway is a big step ahead: Already 32.000 e-cars are on the streets – with a population of just 5.1 million. If Germany had a similar quota the objective for 2020 could be achieved quiet easily.

There are many reasons for the success in Norway – most of them are various affirmative actions. Electric cars are pushed massively by subsidies, tax cuts, free-of-charge electricity at public car parks and privileges on the streets. One of many examples: electric cars are allowed to use the bus lanes. But this causes not only happiness: During the rush hours up to 85% of the traffic on the bus lanes is caused by electric cars – which has a negative impact on public transport.

These numbers are also an important message for Germany where a new law will be approved by the parliament very soon. From February 1st, 2015, German local governments can allow electric cars to use the bus lanes and can give the drivers the right to park the cars on free-of-charge parking.

This brings up a crucial question: is it clever or even counterproductive to give so many privileges to electric cars? Again, Norway delivers interesting numbers: 48% of EV owners say they have bought the vehicle mainly because of the federal subsidies, according to Wirtschaftswoche. For 27% the protection of the environment was the main reason. Only 12% have decided to buy an electric car because of the privileges which allow them to save time – which means the access to bus lanes and free parking.

What does that mean for Germany? One thing seems to be clear: In the opinion of most people electric cars are not ready for the market yet without federal subsidies. Costs and the lack of range are amongst the main obstacles. In theory the federal government could subsidies e-mobility, but the costs would be enormous for a country with such a big population. This is why the main responsibility is with the vendors who have to come up with even more convenient and attractive solutions which convince people to switch to e-mobility. Only if the products really meet the demands of the public we will see a sustainable change.

Mobility in a state of flux

The car industry is changing dramatically. The changes affect the production, the behavior of the consumers and the challenges the car dealers are facing. This is what trend observer Mathias Haas is convinced of. On the website of the Huffington Post the scientist is answering questions about the megatrend in the car industry. Haas is convinced that people are increasingly not looking for cars but for convenient mobility. From his perspective this change of behavior is a megatrend which will be long lasting and fundamental but also extremely subliminal.

In the opinion of the trend observer this fundamental change can also be proven by the fact that many businesses from the IT, Internet and entertainment industry are currently starting to cooperate with the leading car brands. “The big US-companies, mainly from the Silicon Valley, have overfull wallets. Why should a company like for example Facebook not have the strength to successfully enter the market for mobility solutions”?

Haas identifies another megatrend which is emerging at the same time: digitalization. “A smartphone is a piece of technology, but also an approach to life”, said Haas. Smartphones make information and communications permanently available, serve as a platform for entertainment and as shopping portals. Hence the digitalization also affects the car dealers how have to cope with new challenges and new consumer behavior. Just like the car manufacturers they have to find ways to react to the new opportunities that consumers get by mobile digital devices. People are already able to compare cars online, configure their car of choice and even buy it via smartphone.

To manage the change successfully the trend observer recommends vendors and car dealers to find new and better ways to emotionalize their customers to keep them loyal. This can mainly be done via design, innovative features and tools which enable interaction – just like modern charging station should do, too.

Steering wheel out, processor in – The automobile future

The international magazine WIRED frequently features very exciting topics re, technology and taks a look into the future of science, technology and society. Recently WIRED has published an article about a study of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The survey basis on the answers of 300 experts from different industries who are up to date with the automation and the increasing level of technology in processes in today´s economy.

Their conclusion: In 2030 new cars will come without a horn, without driving mirror and without emergency brake. In 20135 you will not find a brake pedal, no accelerator pedal and even no steering wheel. Why? Because the cars will drive fully autonomous in 20 years, so the experts say.

The major car manufacturers have made incredible progress in the last couple of years to come up with cars which act widely autonomously in specific situations. These are for example advanced parking assistants systems, cruise control in combination with distance keeping warning systems, lane departure warning systems and the automatic detection of pedestrians and safety hazards. In all these areas the automation of driving has been almost brought to perfection.

But there is still a long way to go until we reach the level of completely autonomous driving. From a technology perspective several solutions need to be optimized – but that is just a question of time and investment. There are some questions which might me more difficult to answer: What happens in the case of an accident – can a PC be held responsible for an accident? And what will insurances do? Will the IT of the car have an impact on the insurance fee? What will the law maker say?

And finally, the development of e-mobility will have an impact, too. Electrical drive engineering and the charging technology will influence the cars of the future and this of course will also change the requirements for charging stations and their technology.

CHAdeMO or CCS – CHAdeMO and CCS?

The dialogue platform “Elektromobilität im Dialog” and the industry information service have initiated a debate. The question was as simple as difficult: Should Germany decide not to adept the CHAdeMO standard for its charging stations? CHAdeMO is the trademark for a brand overlapping electrical interface of a battery management system for electric cars, which was developed in Japan. Overall 1.239 opinions have been collected and analyzed. At the end there was a small advantage for the critics of CHdeMO which were more likely to explain the opinion with several arguments. However, the numbers of pro and against opinions have been equal.

The supporters of CHAdeMO are convinced that the exclusion of the standard would discourage potential new buyers of electric cars and would be a massive counterstrike against the pioneers of emobility. Many of the early adopters have bought cars with the CHAdeMO standard and would be punished for their courage. The supporters of the standard want to include these people and their cars. Also, the additional costs to integrate CHAdeMo with new charging stations would increase their costs by not more than five percent. The question they ask: Would anybody ever open a petrol station that only offers diesel but no benzine?

The opponents of CHAdeMO say that emobility is still at a very early stage which is an ideal opportunity to errect a homogeneous infrastructure which is free of any kind of fragmentation. An important decision at this stage will be the choice of one uniform fast charging standard. This is why the German car manufacturers and all big US-based car brands have agreed to use the CCS-technology (Combined Charging System). There are too many differences between CHAdeMO and the industry norms ISO 15118 and DIN 70121, which have been defined for Europe. CHAdeMO is also too expensive the design of the plug is not user-friendly.

Both groups have many good and much more arguments for and against the standard – it is now up to the consumers to decide.

(auto)-mobile payment at the pump

The German consumers are ready for mobile payment: One out of three would like top y at petrol stations via smartphone. In public transport, supermarkets and drug stores the demand for mobile payment is also huge: 45 percent of all smartphone-owners would like to pay for their bus- and train-tickets mobile. Around 30 percent of consumers would also like to benefit from mobile payment in supermarkets. There is also high demand for additional features and services: Almost 30 percent of the population would like to get additional information like a current overview on their latest transactions to get the most out of the mobile technology. What also matters to the consumers is speed. One out of three would like to benefit from a much faster payment process by mobile payment.

Mobile Payment

Mobile Payment

The survey from TNS Infratest is a strong indicator of what consumers expect from businesses: making mobile technology available for all kinds of uses. One of these cases is payment – for example at the pump. For the future and the success of emobility this means that not only vehicles but also the charging stations need to provide interfaces and functions for mobile data transmission to get fully accepted by consumers.

Greener than Greenpeace expects – Research proves good environmental balance of electric cars

Facts or fantasy? The questions regarding the real environmental benefits of electric cars divide experts all over the world. Now, Martin Seiwert, US-correspondent of the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche, a journalist who has already reported a lot on e-mobility, gives some insights regarding a very revealing research study from California. Continue reading →

Stop for combustion engines, go ahead for electric cars – Driving bans in Paris

History repeats: On October 1st, 1997 the people of Paris had to face driving bans due to air pollution in the city for the very first time. Ever since then the motto in the French capital was “go ahead”. Just like in Germany and many other countries just the idea to limit the usage of cars is a highly risky thing to mention and a politically dangerous topic. However the authorities of Paris recently found no alternative to limit the air pollution but to announce public driving bans: On March 17th only vehicles with an odd figure on the number plate (and a couple of other exceptions) were allowed to drive in Paris. The most interesting exception from this rule: hybrids and electric cars were allowed to carry on using the streets of Paris!  Continue reading →

i3 meets Point.One – We rely on the e-car from Bavaria

The Swabian-Bavarian rivalry manifests itself for decades in conflicts like “Oktoberfest vs. Cannstatter Wasen”, VfB Stuttgart vs. FC Bayern München” and “Bavarian veil sausage vs. Swabian pockets”. And, last but not least, the evergreen „ Daimler & Porsche or Audi & BMW“! Especially the last question has become a real question of faith.

Nevertheless we have decided to have a look across the Swabian borders towards Bavaria when looking for an electric car that perfectly matches to us and our approach. Our search was finally successful when we discovered the final version of the BMW i3 in Munich. How great our solar charging station Point.One and the BMW i3 match became clear at our joined event at the BMW Headquarters in July 2013.

Continue reading →

Survey verifies: e-mobility needs public charging stations to succeed

An interesting study on behalf of the US software company Recargo unveils that 80 percent of 4.000 respondents mainly charge their electric vehicles at public charging stations – much more often than at their domestic power plug. The owners of e-cars want to charge their vehicles not only at home but also on the go when travelling to distant destinations. In a current article the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche reports on the study and the impact of its findings on the industry.  Continue reading →