Today there are more than 1.2 billion vehicles worldwide, and over 900 million of these are passenger cars. This figure is expected to rise to two billion by 2035. This brings major challenges with it, not only for Germany, but for almost all industrialised countries and emerging economies: Transportation-related emissions of CO2, pollutants and noise are increasing, and dependence on oil imports continues to grow. Measures to increase the efficiency of combustion engines or to promote the use of renewable fuels are and will remain important in the future. However, these measures alone will not be sufficient to achieve our climate and environmental protection objectives related to transportation.
Electric mobility can contribute significantly to the reduction of transport’s environmental effects. It is an important step on the path to achieving climate-friendly mobility that has a lower impact on the natural environment and on cities and towns. Moreover, electric mobility allows us to increase the amount of renewable domestic energy used for transport, which is available on a long-term basis – unlike oil, which is becoming scarcer and more expensive.
For the German government, electric mobility encompasses all types of vehicles that primarily use energy taken from the electricity grid, for example externally chargeable vehicles. These include exclusively battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV), electric vehicles with a small combustion engine and range extender (REEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that charge from the electric grid (PHEV). The latter are often powered by an electric motor as well as a combustion engine. This narrow definition of electric mobility, which focuses on electricity as a fuel, was chosen for a good reason: If you examine the efficiency of energy transfer along the entire chain from the vehicle’s energy source to the wheel in different engine models, the direct use of electricity is by far the most efficient and – as long as the electricity comes increasingly from renewable sources – reduces CO2 emissions significantly.
Government support for electric mobility
In 2007, the government’s Integrated Energy and Climate Programme declared that support for electric mobility was among the most important components of climate action. The National Development Plan for Electric Mobility followed in 2009 and provided decisive guidelines for action. The government programme for electric mobility, adopted in 2011, articulated the current definitive strategy and its mechanisms.
The goal is to make Germany a leading market for and provider of electric mobility and to put one million electrically powered vehicles on German roads by 2020. By 2030, it will be six million. The four federal ministries responsible for electric mobility are the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), the Federal Environment Ministry (BMUB), and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Together, the ministries are working to strengthen support for electric mobility and to develop a number of model projects and research projects, among other activities. Information on what and how the BMUB supports the above can be found on the website "Renewable Mobile". In addition, buyer's premiums and tax concessions are available for electric vehicles as well as extensive grants for improving the charging infrastructure.
The new Electric Mobility Act
The BMVI and the BMU developed the Electric Mobility Act (Elektromobilitätsgesetz, EmoG), which entered into force on 12 June 2015. The purpose of the law is to grant special privileges to electric-powered vehicles on the roads such as, for example, allocating them special parking spaces near charging stations in public areas, lowering or waving parking fees, and exempting electric vehicles from certain access restrictions. To improve recognition and verification, these vehicles receive special license plates, known as E-license plates.
The 50th ordinance amending road traffic regulations specifically implemented the Electric Mobility Act’s provisions. Decisions about the privileges granted to electric vehicles are made by the competent local authorities. A number of cities have already implemented special rights for electric vehicles on the basis of the Electric Mobility Act.