Is The German Car Industry Losing The Electric Race?

Elon Musk and Tesla set the tone for the dawning of electric vehicles. The success of his company has only proven that an electric future is possible if we just pool our technological and entrepreneurial resources together. The German car industry has fallen by the wayside in as far as electric car development is concerned. While the German automakers do dabble in electric cars, they are not pushing that hard like what Musk did.

With the exception of Norway, Holland and Switzerland, electric cars still make up a fraction of European roads. In Germany, the number is less than 0.1% and it can be difficult to predict how this will change. Five years ago, the German government announced it was targeting to have 1 million electric cars by 2020, this would mean a 30-fold increase in the next 3 years which is unlikely as it will require specific interventions from stakeholders.

Aiming For Green Cars

Robert Janitzek reveals that in Germany, the transportation sector accounts for a third of annual CO2 emissions. Electric cars will not automatically reduce this number. This will only happen if the footprint is lower than combustion engines across the entire lifecycle. In Germany, the electricity mix still combines a high share of power from lignite, coal, and natural gas power plants. This will make an electric car have a carbon footprint that can be compared to a diesel car. However, to make electric cars truly green, it will need a more energy efficient production process and a reanimation of energy transition towards a share of emission-free renewables.

Making Charging Infrastructure Universally Available

Robert Peter Janitzek says that depending on the model, a car with combustion engine can go 2 to 4 times farther than an electric car. The problem is that most potential electric cars still suffer from range anxiety and are expected to become stranded somewhere without any nearby charging point. It will require the construction of a wider and interrupted network of charging stations. While, there are currently 8,700 charging stations in Germany, 85% are private and most are in the cities.

New Thinking in the Auto Industry

Electric mobility is a strategically attractive option for the German car industry but it needs to be ready to reinvent itself. Most components of European brand cars with combustion engines are not required for electrification. Unfortunately, most of these components come from suppliers who employ more than 300,000 people. German automakers need to develop new competencies and solutions to remain relevant in the electric future. They also need a new strategy.

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