Electromobility is an essential building block for a sustainable and resource-conserving mobility system - and offers enormous opportunities for Germany as a business hub.
The market ramp-up of electric vehicles has gained considerable momentum in Germany - thanks in part to the electromobility offensive launched by the German industry.
In 2020 alone, almost 400,000 electric vehicles were newly registered in Germany, of which 194,163 were pure battery electric passenger cars (BEV) and 200,469 were plug-in hybrid passenger cars (PHEV). This means that the number of newly registered BEVs almost tripled compared with the previous year, and the number of PHEVs even quadrupled. The positive trend is continuing this year: Around 200,000 new electric vehicles were registered in the first half of 2021. The market ramp-up is currently based on the extensive support measures and incentives provided by policymakers. The German government's original target of one million electric vehicles by 2020 was achieved with a few months' delay in July 2021.
Germany is thus catching up with the international lead markets for electromobility. Electric vehicles from German manufacturers are in high demand in Germany, Europe and all around the globe. In Europe, almost every second newly registered electric car currently comes from a German manufacturer. In Norway - where electric vehicles account for 70 percent of the total market - German manufacturers are e-car market leaders with a 50 percent share of all new e-vehicle registrations.
Source: Mercedes Benz
Innovative vehicle and drive technologies
Electric vehicles, battery-electric and fuel cell-electric, are thus pointing the way to more sustainable mobility. Two drive systems for battery-electric vehicles have currently become established on the market. The common feature is that the batteries of the vehicles can be recharged directly from the power grid. In a purely battery-powered vehicle (BEV), the energy for propulsion comes exclusively from the battery. Plug-in hybrids, combine an internal combustion engine and an electric motor drive, but the battery can still be charged externally. In addition, fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) are also basically electric vehicles, but they do not use a battery to store energy; instead, they refuel with hydrogen. FCEVs convert the chemical energy of hydrogen into electrical energy directly on board. While battery-electric vehicles are available on the market as mass-produced vehicles, there is currently no corresponding model diversity for customers in the case of FCEVs.
Model diversity - symbol of a policy change
In no other country is there such cross-segment vehicle diversity for e-cars for customers to choose from: With over 70 electric vehicle models, German manufacturers are now among the leading suppliers internationally. By the end of 2023, German manufacturers will expand their range to 150 models. No other automotive nation has a comparable diversity across all vehicle segments. One in three patents worldwide in the field of electromobility originates from Germany. For the further ramp-up of e-mobility, the German automotive industry alone plans to invest around 150 billion euros by 2025.
Charging infrastructure - a basic prerequisite for the success of electromobility
The development of charging infrastructure is also gaining momentum. A total of around 46,000 publicly accessible charging points are currently available throughout Germany, of which around 39,400 are standard charging points and around 6,700 are fast charging points. Nevertheless, the development of a nationwide charging infrastructure is proving to be a key challenge for the further ramp-up of electromobility and must pick up speed significantly. To this end, the charging infrastructure master plan must be implemented quickly and the funding for publicly accessible and private charging points must be sustained until the charging infrastructure is economically viable. Further focus should be placed on fast-charging infrastructure, inner-city charging hubs and charging networks for commercial vehicles.
New rules for value creation
For Germany, electromobility means the challenge of securing its leading position as a location for industry, science and technology and of opening up new business areas. Opportunities arise in those industry segments that anchor know-how about the future key technologies, such as battery development, vehicle construction or innovative materials technologies in the company. For example, composite materials in lightweight construction help reduce weight - whether in the vehicle body, wheel rims or interior. This in turn benefits the range extension of electric vehicles.
The resulting value chains are characterized today, as they will be in the future, by close cooperation between all the industrial sectors involved: from automotive, steel, metals, chemicals and energy to electronics, information and communications technology, textiles and glass. In addition, electromobility is providing important impetus for other sectors. Battery-powered vehicles need their own charging infrastructure, and hydrogen filling stations must be available for fuel cell vehicles. In addition, there are new digital service offerings related to electromobility.
Written by: Lorenzo Federici
Data sources: https://www.bmvi.de/DE/Home/home.html, https://bdi.eu