14 Oct 2021, 13:49
Benjamin Wehrmann

Preserving Germany’s lead in mobility “herculean task” – govt advisers

Clean Energy Wire

Germany can remain a leading market and innovator in mobility and car production also after the shift to electric vehicles – but this will be a “herculean task” and corresponding policies and infrastructure must be introduced at a very large scale to make it happen, the National Platform Future of Mobility (NPM) has found after examining the country’s mobility sector for three years. The platform brings together stakeholders in Germany’s mobility sector, including researchers, business representatives, civil society groups and policymakers that advise the government on how to make the sector fit for the future. “There are huge opportunities to leave the transition period stronger than before,” the NPM said in its final report, cautioning that “this will by no means be guaranteed.” Policymakers would have to actively support and supervise the transition in many areas to ensure that the country’s car and mobility industry does not shed jobs – either in Germany or across Europe. “It is crucial for success that the components of new propulsion systems are built within Europe at an industrial scale in a sustainable and competitive way and are kept in circular production chains,” the platform concluded. This means that new production and research facilities supported by the state are needed, for example in battery production, electronics or hydrogen production, and workers in the industry must be retrained to take on new tasks and technologies. The entire mobility system needs to be revamped and strengthened to comply with the emissions reduction targets in the transport sector. In other words, besides new propulsion technologies, the use of bicycles, public transport and other components of mobility must also be reinforced and linked together through digital networks. “Completing these challenges and tasks is feasible, but it requires fast and resolute implementation,” the NPM said.  

According to the platform, Germany will have to have 14 million e-cars on the road by 2030 to achieve its recently tightened climate targets in the sector and will have to establish a functioning infrastructure for alternative fuels to ensure that the vast number of cars with combustion engines still in use by that time greatly reduce their emissions footprint as well. While electric engines appear to be the most adequate technology for passenger cars, a decision on how to propel heavy duty and transport vehicles in the future should be made no later than 2025, the platform recommended.

Emissions in Germany’s transport sector have remained stubbornly high in recent years, with efficiency gains in car technology largely outweighed by higher traffic volumes and more heavy and inefficient cars on the road. Road traffic is causing about 95 percent of emissions in the sector, with two-thirds caused by passenger vehicles and another third by cargo transport.

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