The Beam interview series, edition 13: Jose Pontes, Viktor Irle, Roland Irle
To lighten up your week and give you even more energizing thoughts, we publish interviews from our partner The Beam twice a week.
The Beam takes a modern perspective at the energy transition, interviewing inspirational people from around the world that shape our sustainable energy future.
This week, Anne-Sophie Garrigou, journalist at The Beam, interviewed Jose Pontes, Viktor Irle, and Roland Irle, co-founder of EV-Volumes, a project that aims to share recent market developments with EV aficionados. The website focuses on the development of plug-in vehicle sales, giving an in depth analysis of products, prices, batteries, charging infrastructure, regulations, and incentives. From the vast stream of daily EV news, EV-Volumes synthesises the information, which allows people to connect the dots. They explain that “selecting the best and most reliable information is part of the effort. [Our] tenacity and experience help [keep] it simple and structured [which] saves users plenty of time.”
Roland Irle. About his personal history with EVs:
“Everything began on September 11th, 2001. We were driving home with a colleague as we couldn’t fly. He was very depressed because he had people whom he knew, working in the twin towers. We had passed the border to Denmark, and we saw all those wind power plants. To me, 9/11 was all about oil, and it was about the Middle East, and about conflicts related to security of oil reserves. I thought it was time to get rid of oil, so it will never happen again. At that time, I was working with Saab automobile, which was part of General Motors (GM). I acquired insights about the EV sector early because my company got involved in the early planning stage of the Chevrolet Volt of GM. Everything had to be done by scratch. GM did a lot of customer research as they didn’t want to enter the project blindsided. I also lived in Sweden for a long time. Sweden is a very environmentally friendly nation with environmentally friendly people. They went into the electric vehicle business pretty early. Through several projects at work or as a consultant, I got more involved and more fascinated by the potential of EVs. Then came Tesla which showed everyone how it can be done by overcoming all those setbacks of EVs such as poor performance or poor range or lack of charging infrastructure.”
Jose Pontes. About the beginning of EVs:
“The first EV production was 1884, then things started to develop. The best time for the first stage of electric vehicles was between 1900 and 1910, even before the Electric Ford Model T, made in 1920. Electric vehicles were already 30% of the market share in the US by that time. Many rich people wanted an EV because it was fast, silent and it didn’t smell. EVs were also very popular among women. Henry Ford’s wife was driving one.”
Jose Pontes and Viktor Irle. About the best country for EV owners:
“China is taking its pollution problem seriously and the country has a good government incentive [for citizens] to buy an EV. In some regions, you can have a €10,000 discount when buying an electric vehicle. On the other hand, you have Norway. The Norwegian government doesn’t have to do anything to encourage its people to buy EV. The country doesn’t have a big domestic production of vehicles so people have to import them. But the government taxes the car’s CO2 emissions and the cylinder volume. Since EVs don’t have a cylinder volume, people who buy them don’t fall under this tax category so they don’t have to pay taxes at all. So by buying an EV, Norwegians can earn €20,000 in tax-savings. So it’s not a subsidy like in other countries, it’s simply not taxed because the system doesn’t let it be taxed.”
Roland Irle. About the lack of infrastructure:
“Driving an EV shouldn’t depend on where you live. Everybody should have the possibility to drive an EV, and there shouldn’t be any discrimination regarding where people live. Good charging infrastructure is not just about having advantages for everyone who cannot charge at home, but it also promotes EVs and improves everybody’s confidence in relation to EVs. It’s a big cause of anxiety for people today and it shouldn’t be.”
Roland Irle. About the constraint of daily charging:
“It’s a lot about changing your habits. Today you can charge in many places. You don’t have to go to the gas station anymore and it’s cheaper than petrol. Yes, you need to charge more often, to have your eyes on the range meter, but it’s the same with your smartphone. Ten years ago, your phone could stay four days without charging. Today you charge it every day, you always look at the battery, you know where your charger is, you make arrangement to have it fully charged. You changed your habit. It’s the same with EV.”