Once You Go Electric, You Never Go Back

Hendricks during the closing conference

It has been four years since the start of the four German Electromobility Showcase projects. In 2012, they became the follow-up to the eight Electromobility Model Regions, across which electric engine technologies had been researched and developed. Before this demonstration and market preparation stage will ultimately be concluded at the end of 2016, the projects were discussed during an official closing conference in Leipzig, Germany, on April 14 and 15. There, the four German federal ministries, the four regional offices as well as the National Platform for Electric Mobility (NPE) jointly presented the project results.

It all started out in 2011 with a call for applications from regions which intended to become an Electromobility Showcase and thus a government-supported test area for electric cars. As eight “model regions” had previously gathered their first experiences with the technology over a four-year period, there was great interest from other towns, cities and communities to become part of these forward-looking projects. All in all, the 13-people jury received 23 applications, from which it was told to select five showcases. In the end, however, the number was reduced to four, since the federal revenues from the Energy and Climate Fund were lower than expected, which means that there was less money available to fund those test regions.

The number of individual initiatives was expected to be 230 at that time; in the end, the figure was lower, amounting to 145 separate initiatives, with 500 partners involved, EUR 180 million of subsidies granted by four federal ministries and 3,600 electric vehicles as a result. Combined with the financial incentives from the participating federal states and other investments, the showcases were supported with a total of EUR 400 million.

Four instead of five showcases

Metropolitan region Hanover, Braunschweig, Göttingen, Wolfsburg – Our Horsepower Turns Electric

Capital region Berlin/Brandenburg – International Showcase of Electromobility

Bavaria / Saxony – Electromobility Connects

Baden-Wurttemberg – LivingLab BWe mobil


Positive results

At the beginning of the event, the federal environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, spoke about the climate conference COP 21 as well as the German Climate Action Plan 2050 and said …

Bomba had both criticism and praise for the projects
Bomba presented the recommendations

Her colleague, federal transportation minister Alexander Dobrindt, had also been invited but did not attend. State Secretary Rainer Bomba, who said that he had travelled from Berlin to Leipzig on electricity only, arrived in his place. In his typical bluntness, he conceded that it was “of course, terrible,” that there were only 54,000 electric cars (plug-in hybrids and purely electric ones) registered across Germany. Bomba said: “We need to raise awareness and let people know we support them. The customer must be convinced.” He referred to Tesla and concluded: “It can be done, and it can be done quickly.” Changing to a somewhat reconciliatory tone, he lauded the accomplishments achieved so far: “The four showcase projects have produced remarkable results.”

Kagermann foresees huge rush to e-cars

Professor Henning Kagermann, chair of NPE, then outlined the project

As Hendricks before him, the president of acatech was optimistic that “electric transportation will become the dominant technology by 2025, as electric cars will be cheaper than conventional ones by that time.” This was “as certain as sunrise,” Kagermann added. He predicted that “there will be a huge rush. […] The only question is what role Germany will play in it.”

Recommendations for action

After the political statements, Bertram Harendt from Deutsches Dialog Institut presented a total of 22 recommendations for action to the government representatives and the NPE. The Frankfurt-based organization had summarized the findings and experiences from the showcase projects in the course of the accompanying and impact-oriented research. One example from the paper is …

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