Versatile Vehicle Models and Better Charging in Public Areas

Expert Interviews – Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Experts see the first major wave of electro mobility transition in the vehicle fleets business sector rather than the private sector. When do you expect a stronger trend in the field of private electric mobility?

Vehicle fleets of companies are currently definitely the best conditions for a - initially partial - conversion to electric mobility. The typical usage of 100 to 200 km range often suits very well with the economical e-vehicles which are already available. In addition to vehicles with combustion engines, vehicle pools can also include replacement vehicles which can drive long distances for occasional special trips, such as cost-intensive e-vehicles with large battery capacity or plug-in hybrid vehicles.
In addition, it is often possible to realize a high-performance charging infrastructure that offers safety and reliability when charging e-vehicles, in the best case also with the integration of existing PV systems or battery storage, in order to reduce electricity procurement costs and thus operating costs of the vehicle fleet. Also, the time lost for charging at private charging infrastructures is very low and ultimately the comfort is higher compared to the use of public charging infrastructure. A lot of users in the private sector rely on public charging infrastructure and their accessibility and availability, but if they only own one vehicle these benefits do not currently apply to them. However, we see increasingly more versatile vehicle models on the market and better charging options in public spaces.

How can electro mobility also be interesting for tenants and the housing industry?

In principle, the advantages presented to companies can also be transferred to homeowners and tenants in order to make the entry into the field of electro mobility and integration into everyday life attractive. This includes a flexible and local charging infrastructure, which in addition to slow charging overnight, also allows spontaneous fast charging. In addition, the availability of different vehicles, such as e.g. e-cars, e-bikes and cargo bikes are increased via a sharing offer. As the operator of such sharing fleets, the housing industry can offer a contemporary complete solution of housing and sustainable mobility.

How do you approach an e-mobile or fleet analysis and what claims can you make from it?

The analysis starts with the user. First of all, the demand is examined on the basis of the concrete user behavior. From this, the requirements for e-vehicles and charging infrastructure are derived and suitable solutions are presented. In particular, with regard to the charging infrastructure, an optimization with regard to the provision of energy and grid connection or grid serviceability as an energy concept is also being developed. In most cases, a partial electrification of fleets is not only technically possible, but also economically feasible. This is especially true in use cases without large or heavy goods and moderate sections in the range of 100 km depending on the case, but also for significantly longer daily distances. However, larger charging infrastructures with several charging points or quick charging stations often require intelligent charging management in order to keep the electric vehicle fleet sufficiently available even with limited network connection and at the same time be economical. It is also advisable to include local regenerative power generation, e.g. a PV system that not only benefits the environment, but also significantly reduces electricity procurement costs. However, the current complex legal situation usually requires an individual case study at the location, which we often carry out as an energy concept in connection with a fleet analysis.

In your opinion, are there any suitable vehicles on the market for all the frequently encountered needs of companies and private individuals?

As already mentioned, supply and demand are always case-related and cannot be generalized. Many e-vehicles, especially cheap models and transport vehicles, have not yet reached the performance of their counterparts with internal combustion engines, especially at the maximum available range. However, this capability is not required in many cases and during most of the use of vehicles. The occasional need, however, can prevent the purchase of e-vehicles. A needs-based fleet solution with different vehicle types for companies or the convenient access to sharing fleets for private individuals can be a good solution. With intensive use of the e-vehicles with high annual mileage, high-priced e-vehicles with large battery capacities can be sensible and economical even today due to the possible low costs per kilometer especially because of the electricity costs.

How do you assess the availability and equipment of public charging infrastructure?

The expansion is progressing rapidly and the situation for e-vehicle users is improving, as new ways of charging are being created on long-haul routes along the axes but also, for example, for shopping or in multi-storey car parks in the city center. At the same time, however, the number of e-vehicles on the road is also increasing, so that at hotspots or at peak times, a free charging station is not always reliably available or the charging power has to be limited. This will lead to a restriction of use and planning uncertainties, which can be particularly critical for companies. Basically, we therefore recommend a combined charging solution that is flexible for the vehicle user: local, network-friendly and, if necessary, slow and predictable private charging at the residential building and fast public charging at traffic axes, but also in the neighborhood for spontaneous use.

Is it sufficient to replace combustion engines vehicles with electric drive in order to carry through the energy transition in the mobility sector or do completely new mobility concepts have to be developed?

From an economic point of view and also with regard to a resource-conserving approach, for example in battery production, sharing solutions make sense. The challenge is to make the offer so flexible that the user can still be 100 percent mobile without owning a vehicle. However, this requires intelligent networking solutions, adaptive pricing models and large sharing fleets with different vehicle types, all of which are readily available and easily accessible. The current solutions can already successfully replace second vehicles of private individuals. The first companies are flexibly supplementing their fleets with sharing vehicles for employees. We assume that this trend will continue and that the technical solutions will become better and better. But even electric vehicles themselves are becoming more efficient and economical, so that a direct change is always easier and represents a first meaningful step into electric mobility.

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