Gabriel: Germany has ‘catching up to do’ in e-car sector

9775645535_6c5a250e41_k.jpg [avda-foto/Flickr]

Germany ranked near the middle in an international comparison of markets for electric vehicles, demonstrating there is room for improvement, the government said. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Ramping-up the market for electric vehicles is the focus of this year’s National Conference on Electromobility, taking place on 15-16 June in Berlin.

Though much has been accomplished in recent years, “there is very clearly still some catching up to do,” Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday (15 June).

Overall, good progress has been made in the market preparation phase for electric motor vehicles in Germany between 2011 and 2014, Gabriel indicated. But improvements must still be made in the range of vehicles, the number of charging stations and the charging time for individual vehicles, he pointed out.

Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said electromobility is a big opportunity for the transportation sector to contribute to environmental protection.

“A completely decarbonised global economy, as the G7 countries confirmed at Schloss Elmau, is only possible if the transportation sector says goodbye to fossil fuels,” Hendricks stated.

>>Read: Berlin approves new incentives for electric car drivers

In this context, the development of electromobility in the passenger car sector cannot fulfill the achievements desired, the Environment Minister explained. “The market development that we had actually expected, continues to lack crucial momentum,” Hendricks added.

At this year’s National Conference on Electromobility, actors from industry and politics hope to find an interim balance. They will cover a variety of subjects from the phase of market preparation to boosting the market to moving toward a mass market.

Forum topics range from technological basics to economic and environmental policy perspectives to framework conditions and market incentives for electromobility.

Germany currently has 19 e-car models, according to the federal government. By the end of the year, there are expected to be 30 models. The government’s goal is to have one million electric cars on German roads by 2020.

In an international comparison of lead markets, Germany ranked near the middle, according to information from the four ministries involved in e-mobility. But with a 95% increase in sales in 2015 within the first four months of this year, compared to the same time last year, Germany showed considerable momentum.

NABU makes sobering assessment of electromobility

Meanwhile, the German Nature Conservation Union (NABU)’s assessment of the electric car market in Germany was sobering. Despite the considerable need for low emissions vehicles, from a climate policy perspective, the German government’s commitment to promoting environmentally friendly transportation has been insufficient.

“So far, the German government has not made a serious attempt at initiating a transportation transition,” said NABU’s national director Leif Miller.

“Instead, we are seeing more and more high performance SUVs in urban regions, which hinder a much-needed reduction in consumption. That contradicts all the demands for climate protection, to which Chancellor Angela Merkel just recently committed herself to at the G7 Summit,” Miller commented.

NABU predicts Germany will miss its 1-million-target to considerably increase the share of electric cars on the road.

>>Read: Germany to miss target for one million e-cars by 2020

But, more importantly, the organisation said there has been a failure to integrate these vehicles in a sustainable transportation system consisting of less cars, more cycle and foot traffic and a stronger public transportation system.

“The electric car is by far not the solution to all of our mobility problems,” said NABU transportation expert Daniel Rieger. “Excessively high surface and resource use as well as noise persist. But without more electromobility it will not work. That is why we need financial incentives for low-emissions vehicles accompanied by an extra fee on cars that are particularly harmful to the environment.”

In the future, electric car drivers in Germany will benefit from special privileges such as reduced parking fees.

This is thanks to the country's new electro-mobility law, which took effect on 12 June. So far, German law did not have any framework for providing extra benefits to electric vehicles on public roads. The new Electromobility Law (EmoG) is intended to change this by applying a number of changes:

  • Special parking spaces at charging stations are reserved for electric cars in public places.
  • Parking fees are either reduced or eliminated for these vehicles.
  • Exempting electric vehicles from certain access limitations, such as due to noise or emissions?.

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