"The charging infrastructure is making progress, but is still a long way from the expansion target"

Expert Interview – November 7, 2023

Kurt Sigl, President, BEM

The development of electromobility in Germany and Europe is progressing, despite ongoing challenges such as infrastructure expansion and technology integration. These steps mark the beginning of a complex transformation in the transport sector that will be crucial to achieving long-term climate targets.

Kurt Sigl, President of the Bundesverband eMobilität (BEM), talks in our interview about the status quo of electric mobility in Germany, demands on politicians and the roles of the BEM and Power2Drive.

Interview with BEM-President Kurt Sigl

What progress have we seen in the field of electromobility in Germany in recent years?

Well, it's 2023, the federal government has withdrawn from direct subsidies for the sale of e-cars to end customers, while there are still various tax reductions for fossil vehicles. With fewer than two million e-cars on German roads, we are a long way from the target of 15 million e-cars set out in the coalition agreement for 2030. German OEMs have certainly caught up in offering attractive models, but they are expensive and take a long time to deliver. Meanwhile, Chinese suppliers and the US supplier Tesla are significantly reducing prices, which is certainly pleasing for customers, but means double the stress for the German automotive industry. All in all, Germany has so far failed to shape electromobility to its economic and ecological advantage.

How satisfied are you with the development of the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in Germany? What measures need to be taken to promote the expansion of charging stations even more?

The charging infrastructure is making progress, but is still a long way off the expansion target. It is particularly difficult in cities with little space, not only for charging but also for parking - more clever, local solutions are needed here. There is a clear need for improvement among employers who are still at the beginning of the expansion.

There is a lack of sufficient charging points and adequate quality features for charging stations, but there is also a lack of holistic energy management programs and business models for charging at the employer's premises. Here, tax incentives should bring more movement into the supply of charging infrastructure so that charging processes are reliable and the majority of charging demand is met.

In terms of regulation, the BEM lacks an overall concept that would allow charging infrastructure to be set up in remote regions. So far, the GHG quota is the only way to support investments. The regulator should therefore strengthen GHG trading and promote investment in the use of green electricity.

Why is Power2Drive Europe so important for the industry?

Power2Drive is the only exhibition in the world that brings together the three modules of electromobility, energy and storage. This dialog creates new perspectives on the efficiency and effectiveness of the green economy, which can be used to respond sensibly to global conflicts and galloping energy prices. We believe that success for the future lies in this interaction, which is why we are big fans of the exhibition.

What innovations can you expect to see at Power2Drive Europe next year? What trends are emerging?

I assume that we will see further innovations in bi-directional charging. I continue to expect rapid development in the battery market, particularly with new technologies and business models for the second life sector and effective recycling.

Are there any specific initiatives or programs that the BEM has taken to promote electromobility in Germany?

The work of the BEM promotes electromobility by explaining interrelationships, networking the players, classifying current political processes, advising on individual topics and generally promoting new technologies. Thanks to our insight into the industry, we have initiated special suggestions for the visualization of light vehicles, eTrailers and electric trucks, in the maritime sector, but also in the field of cable cars and in many respects for new regulatory thinking.

What role do renewable energies play in the context of electromobility? How can we ensure that electric vehicles are operated in the most environmentally friendly way possible?

Word has got around that electromobility is only a real alternative to conventional mobility when combined with renewable energy. What is missing for its realization is a resilient power grid, which must be brought up to speed as quickly as possible. The state has been asleep for a very long time in this respect and now urgently needs to improve the functionalities.

To what extent will Light EVs play a role in the future of electromobility? What advantages do they offer compared to conventional electric vehicles?

Light EVs complement the range of vehicles on offer to suit the driving profile. Short motorized trips in the city do not necessarily require a two-ton vehicle that also needs a lot of space for parking. Light vehicles are a sensible alternative from an energy point of view and offer more potential savings than cars can achieve.

The BEM has been promoting light vehicles since the association was founded, and they are now enjoying public attention because German car manufacturers have failed to produce enough small vehicles. In order to stimulate demand here, we expect legislators to include light vehicles in the GHG trading scheme and to grant all privileges for energy-conscious and environmentally friendly behavior.

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