Thomas Ulbrich, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Brand responsible for E-Mobility, explains how Volkswagen is driving the breakthrough of e-mobility and which German city has the best charging network to offer.
Interview with Thomas Ulbrich, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Brand
The success of electromobility depends not least on how efficient the charging infrastructure is. In the interview, Thomas Ulbrich, member of the Volkswagen Board of Management responsible for E-mobility, explains how Volkswagen is driving forward the expansion of the charging infrastructure throughout Europe, what German politicians can contribute - and which German city has the best charging network to offer. In two "Simply explained" films and numerous infographics, you will also find interesting facts about e-mobility at a glance.
What is the state of the charging infrastructure in Germany?
In Germany, there are currently fewer than 20,000 public charging points. This is all right for the time being, but the great e-campaign is still to come. The Federal Government has issued the objective of building around 100,000 charging points by 2020, which means there is a lot to do in the coming months. I am convinced that we need this in order for e-mobility to catch on quickly here. Many potential e-car customers still have a kind of ‘charging fear’: they’re worried about whether they’ll be able to charge their car reliably at all. We need to reassure them by creating new charging stations quickly and very visibly. People have to gain confidence in e-mobility.
Hamburg is seen as a role model when it comes to charging. Why is this?
Basically, it is the task of cities and municipalities to ensure that a local charging infrastructure is developed. Hamburg has been doing good work in this area for years. In 2014, the Senate spoke out very clearly and actively in favor of building up the charging infrastructure, which was a very important signal. Hamburg has clearly defined responsibilities, the cost coverage is regulated and the charging points have standardized labeling and are clearly visible. The Hamburg police also take decisive action against parking offenders who block charging points. As a result, Hamburg now has the best charging columns coverage in the whole of Germany, and it also has a clear plan for how to continue the expansion according to need.
How is Volkswagen contributing to the expansion of the charging infrastructure?
We want e-mobility to catch on quickly and are therefore involved wherever e-cars will be charged in the future: at home, at work, in public spaces and on the highway. Private customers will receive a complete package for their garage from our subsidiary Elli: an inexpensive wallbox, installation and green electricity. At the German Volkswagen sites alone, we will have installed around 4,000 charging points for our employees by 2025. Many of them will also be available to the general public. As a Group, we will build around 36,000 charging points in total across Europe by 2025, if you count the ones at dealerships. And through IONITY, we are also involved in the construction of 400 quick charging stations on highways. We want to set a good example.
How can the expansion of the charging infrastructure be accelerated?
The automotive industry cannot achieve this alone; stronger commitment is needed from politicians, as well. Above all, we now need prompt decisions, for example to extend the incentive measures for car park operators. It is also important for tenants and homeowners to have ‘wallbox rights’, which means that appropriate adjustments have to be made to tenancy and building law. Germany needs an e-mobility master plan, which focuses on charging infrastructure. If industry and politics pool their resources, we can solve the charging infrastructure challenges very quickly.
Have you personally ever suffered from “charging fear”?
I did once arrive home in my e-Golf¹ with only a few kilometers left on the clock. It was a bit nerve-wracking. It reminded me a bit of 25 years ago, when combustion vehicles also only had a range of 350 to 400 kilometers and the filling station network was nowhere near as extensive as it is today. But I think that most people overestimate how often they will need to charge up their car. For the ID.3, with a range of 420 kilometers, once a week will be enough in most cases.
1 Volkswagen e-Golf energy consumption in kWh/100 km combined 12.7; CO2 emissions in g/km combined 0. Efficiency class A+.