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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on September 22nd, 2018 | by Matt Pressman


In Germany, E-Mobility Startups Are Filling The Gaps

September 22nd, 2018 by  

Originally published on EVANNEX.

Last month, another remarkable milestone came to fruition for the Silicon Valley Automaker. Eric Loveday reports (via InsideEVs), “It’s hard to believe it, but indeed it’s true. In the month of August, the Tesla Model 3 alone outsold all passenger cars from BMW.” Meanwhile, in Germany, legacy automakers are struggling to develop a cohesive strategy for their fledgling electric vehicle programs. As automotive bigwigs argue about how to proceed, small German startups are trying to push the EV movement forward.

Photo by Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica

Looking at the industry leader, Tesla has developed a highly aggressive (and sophisticated) worldwide charging infrastructure for its own vehicles. As German automakers trot out new electric cars, the question remains: where is their charging network? Unlike Tesla, individual German automakers have turned their backs on a vertically integrated approach to EV charging infrastructure buildout.

Sensing an opportunity, young entrepreneurial startups in Germany are looking to fill the charging void. Leading the effort in places like, “Berlin, where start-up Ubitricity is developing Mobile Charging and slow-charging EV points that can be incorporated in the urban infrastructure, into lamp posts for example. Elsewhere, a joint-venture created by BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen Group, called IONITY is developing 400 fast-charging stations across Europe.”

Ubitricity is comparing “the evolution of electric vehicles with emerging markets, where land-line telephones have been leapfrogged by mobile phones,” according to founder Knut Hechtfischer. And IONITY claims that “slow charging is a thing of the past. This new generation only needs 15 minutes for a charge … the time it takes to relax and have a cappuccino,” says company CEO Michael Hajesch.

A look at some small German companies looking to provide EV charging infrastructure solutions (Youtube: Financial Times)

According to the Financial Times, “Germany’s old automotive business model, which lasted for well over a century, of selling combustion-engine cars to private customers, is drawing to a close. … A ground-breaking German court ruling in February stated that cities can ban the most polluting diesel from city centers proving that the only way for electric vehicles is forward.”

Furthermore, the country is setting an ambitious goal, “to put six million electrically powered vehicles on German roads by 2030… [and] over the last year, the share of diesel vehicles in German new car sales has dropped sharply, from about half to 35%. Plug-in electric car sales more than doubled in 2017, with the momentum continuing this year, Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority reported.”

In addition, “German motorist[s] can get €4,000 euros of subsidies for purely battery electric vehicles, and €3,000 euros for a plug-in hybrid. German purchasers of fully electric vehicles registered between 2011 and 2020 also benefit from a 10-year exemption from ownership tax. The Electric Mobility Act… [also includes] priority parking spaces near charging stations, free or reduced-price parking, and exemptions from some access restrictions.”

Kudos to Germany’s government for policies supporting EVs — especially in light of the dieselgate scandal that rocked the local automotive industry. Side note: it is, however, disappointing to see Germany’s government asking Tesla Model S owners to pay back €4,000 in EV incentives. In any event, small investments in German startups like IONITY and Ubitricity are encouraging. But it remains to be seen if it’s enough to catch up with Tesla. 

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About the Author

is all about Tesla. He’s a TSLA investor, pre-ordered the Model 3, and loves driving the family's Model S and Model X company cars. As co-founder of EVANNEX, a family business specializing in aftermarket Tesla accessories, he’s served as a contributor/editor of Electric Vehicle University (EVU) and the Owning Model S and Getting Ready for Model 3 books. He writes daily about Tesla and you can follow his work on the EVANNEX blog.

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