Electromobility is one of the keys to achieving sustainable mobility for the future. The first electric vehicles have been available on the market for years now. But high purchase prices and short ranges still keep many drivers from deciding in favor of an electric-powered vehicle. Fraunhofer researchers are currently working together with industry on new solutions for innovative batteries, cable-free charging and cost-efficient drive systems. These components are to help improve the performance of future generations of the electric automobile.
The combustion engine has been our main source of mobility for more than a century. But in the meantime climate change and the constantly growing world population are placing new demands on mobility. Today cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc. are already responsible for approximately one fourth of the greenhouse gases emitted in Europe. What's more, noise, respirable dust and exhaust gas are a burden on the population at large. But not so with electric cars, which are quiet, emission-free and which reduce dependency on petroleum imports. Another advantage: If these cars are powered by electricity from renewable sources, they are much more environmentally sound than gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles.
But in spite of these advantages, electric cars remain a rare sight on German streets. At the beginning of this year there were only 19 000 pure e-cars and 108 000 hybrid vehicles registered in Germany, according to the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (»KBA«). The high purchase prices, short ranges and lack of infrastructure are insurmountable obstacles for many drivers. And electric-powered vehicles remain a niche market within the European Union, as is clearly indicated by data from the European Automobile
Manufacturers Association ACEA: In the first quarter of 2015 a total of 3.5 million new cars were registered, of which only 24 630 were electrically powered. Nevertheless the demand for electric vehicles is slowly but surely increasing. In Europe (the EU plus Norway and Switzerland) in the first quarter of 2015 almost twice as many electric cars were sold (33 835) than in the same period the year before. Here the European frontrunner is Norway, where thanks to generous state incentives car dealers were able to sell 8 099 e-cars in the first quarter alone. Thisconstitutes a share of about 23 percent of the overall Norwegian automobile market.
The leading market for e-mobility is the USA with sales of approximately 120 000 electric and plug-in cars last year as reported by the »Electromobility Index« from Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and the research firm Kraftfahrwesen mbH of Aachen, Germany. And the significance of the Chinese market is growing as well: With almost 53 000 e-cars sold in 2014, Chinese sales more than doubled compared to the previous year. One of the reasons for the strong upward trend in China is massive State subsidies. The government has to date invested almost € 7.7 billion in e-mobility.