Nachhaltige Mobilität im Fuhrpark

Is 2022 the year of the electric car?

We’re just a few weeks into 2022 and already the question is being asked: How will the new administration in Germany deal with the call for greater sustainable mobility? In short, will 2022 be the year of the electric car?
Acceptance of electric mobility is on the rise, as the figures show: In 2011 there were around 2,300 electric cars; 10 years down the line, in 2021, 365,000 EVs were plying the roads. If you include hybrids, the count goes up to one million plus, and momentum is gathering. With the change of government, electromobility has just been given a whole new charge, and, boy, is it needed. With the threat of climate change and its associated economic challenges at our doorstep, targeted legislation is needed more than ever to pave the way for electromobility.

Die Akzeptanz von elektrischer Mobilität steigt, wie die Zahlen belegen: waren 2011 nur rund 2.300 Elektroautos, sind es 2021 mehr als 365.000 Bestandsfahrzeuge mit rein elektrischem Antrieb. Wenn man Hybridautos mit einbezieht, sind es mittlerweile mehr als 1 Million Fahrzeuge, Tendenz stark steigend. Mit dem Regierungswechsel kommt in Sachen Elektromobilität auch wieder frischer Wind auf und der ist bitter nötig. Denn mit Blick auf den drohenden Klimawandel und die damit einhergehenden wirtschaftlichen Herausforderungen, bedarf es neuer Gesetzesvorhaben, die zielgerichtet den Weg für die Elektromobilität ebnen.

Plugin-Hybrid on charging station

Mobile, yes – but it’s got to be ecologically sound too!

Mobility is on everyone’s lips. Hardly a surprise, given climate change and soaring fuel prices, a hard rethink in many areas of life is urgently needed. How we’ll get around in the future, both personally and for business, is the subject of many political discussions. Personal mobility is becoming increasingly differentiated. Urbanites, in particular, are turning to micromobility: e-scooters and e-bikes etc., along with public transport. But for business, the car is still the transport of choice.

According to Statista, in 2020 there were over 5 million passenger cars owned by businesses in Germany. This is 10 percent of total passenger cars on the road. In 2021, 2.6 million passenger cars were newly registered, more than 60 percent of which were by commercial owners. So the fleet sector is literally moving forward.
What conclusions may be drawn from these figures with regard to electromobility? Around 47 percent of all fleets now use alternative drive systems, and a further third are planning to switch over in the coming three years. Though it remains uncertain how many firms will actually act on their plans and electrify their fleets, and with how many vehicles. Up to now, very few fleets are fully electrified. The majority of fleet operators still rely on internal-combustion engine vehicles. The urban-rural divide must also be taken into account: urban fleets have a significantly higher electrification rate. On top of this, there are major regional differences.

Fleet managers find themselves in a dilemma: On the one hand, the call for alternative drives is becoming ever louder. On the other hand, the planning and organizational effort required for an e-fleet is significantly greater. For example, in addition to vehicle procurement, the charging infrastructure requires careful consideration and implementation. Charging stations must be registered with the local energy supplier and their utilization outlined. The same applies to electricity costs calculation, the time of day when charging occurs – lots of moving parts that quickly drive up expenditure, despite state subsidies. Another hurdle is feasibility. Not every fleet can be easily electrified: especially those composed of utility vehicles. Despite the significant growth of e-vans in the past years, they remain costly and have long delivery times. Still, companies willing to adapt and modernize their core business are switching to electric mobility.

What electrifying the fleet means

Electrifying a corporate fleet is a complex undertaking. In addition to procuring EVs, planning and expansion of charging infrastructure are crucial. The latter in particular is often underestimated. Digital solutions can help to effectively limit the need for investment. Though it does require knowledge amassment, which is preceded by a requirements analysis and a concept. There is quite a bit of catching up here.

Financial incentives from the state are the first guiding step toward fleet electrification. They must, however, also be applied precisely within companies. Even with this monetary sweetener, the switch to electromobility is not guaranteed. The German state has come to the realization that a charging infrastructure is the cornerstone to electromobility and has earmarked €350m for the expansion of charging stations in parking lots for company and municipal fleets.

Ladestation auf leerem Parkplatz

What measures to best promote electromobility:

1. Sales ban on combustion engine vehicles

In Norway, the UK and the Netherlands, new registrations of petrol and diesel engines will no longer be permitted starting 2030. This is forcing car dealerships and prospective car buyers to rethink. The extent to what exceptions will be made for commercial businesses remains unclear, but whatever happens, the proportion of electric vehicles in all sectors will increase significantly in these countries.

2. More targeted support measures
In the beginning, the principle of indiscriminate dispersal of subsidies worked well to create incentives. In the meantime, more is needed. Subsidies must be adapted to the needs of users, be they private individuals or companies. In concrete terms, this means looking at the requirements of different user groups. First and foremost is the solution-oriented planning of charging stations.
This calls for outside-of-the-box thinking.

3. Better communication
It is up to policymakers and the business world to dispel the prejudices surrounding EVs. This may be done through targeted campaigns, purchase incentives as well as new legislation. The issue of cost transparency should not be underestimated. According to Daniela Kluckert of the BMDV, from the consumer’s point of view, “it’s hard to make people understand that they pay [basically] the same for petrol and diesel at fuel stations – but not at charging stations.”

4. Bonus models
Experts have long called for a restructuring of the car tax and a bonus system that rewards drivers when they switch to sustainable-drive vehicles. In addition, reforming energy taxes is in order as both companies and private individuals are concerned about the soaring prices of raw materials in these last few months.

5. Support through digitalization
Locating free charging stations and being able to reliably assess the need for mobility, forecasting energy consumption in a meaningful way and making green electricity more applicable – can be capably handled by software. With an improved digital infrastructure, electromobility can also be deployed across the board and, above all, cost-effectively. This is just for starter. Open standards and closer exchange between science, industry and politics can bring on the desired success.

Quo vadis electromobility?

So where do we go from here? The German government’s goal is clear: 15 million EVs are to be on the autobahn in Germany by 2030. To turn this into a reality, the coalition government agreement contains numerous points to pave the way and inject a boost to the electric transformation on German roads. VDA President Müller sees no problem whatsoever in the production of 15 million EVs, but is skeptical about how consumers will react. Since, ultimately, it is the taxpayer’s purchasing decision that ultimately determines the success or failure of e-mobility. “In the end, it is consumers who have to embrace electromobility,” says Müller.

Companies need clearly formulated legislation.

At no point in the past four years did the former administration show how [its] goals [in terms of the environmental transportation transformation] were to be achieved.

Christian Hochfeld

Director of Agora Transportation Transformation

2022 will be a watershed year because basic political decisions from the past might be and should be reexamined. The new federal government now has the opportunity to define and implement measures in a targeted manner. This requires courage first and foremost, as well as management policies. Last not least, it is the advancement of digitization that will determine the success of this transformation.