Electric mobility is on the rise. Why would you choose to have an electric car and what does it feel like to drive one? We visited people in Germany and asked them what it is that inspired them about sustainable mobility.
Using nature’s energy to charge my vehicle makes me feel really good because I don’t have to have a guilty conscience about anything.
Meinersen is located about 40 km from the automotive stronghold of Wolfsburg and is also home to Andreas Schuster. It’s a rural region where you can't do anything without a car. This entrepreneur has been commuting to work for around a year now in an electric car. He enjoys new technologies and can barely hold back a broad smile when he talks about sustainable mobility. “Driving an electric car is like sailing – you glide along almost without a sound.”
Andreas Schuster charges his electric car using solar energy from his own photovoltaic power plant, which he installed on the roof of his house. “Using nature’s energy to charge my vehicle makes me feel really good because I don’t have to have a guilty conscience about anything,” Schuster explains. He now has a much broader view of e-mobility: “Even my post is being quietly delivered by an electric postal vehicle. When the postwoman stopped to exchange a few words with people over the garden fence, the engine on the old vehicle kept running the whole time. It was not only loud but also really stank sometimes. Electric vehicles shut down as soon as you take your foot off the pedal.”
Schuster is an enthusiastic fan of electric mobility but also believes that the car is just a part of the overall system. “It is not enough for us to build outstanding electric cars, we also need to have the right infrastructure. I want to be able to find charging stations quickly, charge my car conveniently and pay without having to think about it,” says Schuster.
The EnBW mobility+ app helps you find the nearest charging point no matter where you are and lets you pay conveniently and contactlessly. The app has already been downloaded more than 1.2 million times. The EnBW HyperNetwork provides drivers of electric vehicles with access to more than 200,000 charging points in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Italy and Liechtenstein. EnBW customers also pay a uniform price per kilowatt hour at all of them, which means they have full transparency when it comes to cost. As a result, EnBW once again came out on top in a test to find the best e-mobility provider in Germany.
People travel a total of 2.4 billion km by car every day in Germany. The flip side of the coin is that they also cause 20% of the CO₂ emissions doing so. This makes electric mobility an integral building block for climate-friendly mobility.
According to a survey by the management consultant PwC, almost 90 % of German citizens understand the need for more initiatives and change in society. The European Union plans to introduce a ban on the registration of new cars with combustion engines by 2035. The automotive industry is following this lead and saying goodbye to combustion engines. Audi plans to only develop electric vehicles from 2026 onwards, while Daimler commented that “our goal is to develop a completely CO₂-neutral fleet of new vehicles by 2039.” Another indication that people are beginning to change their minds is that, according to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, around 356,000 vehicles with purely electric drives were newly registered in 2021 – almost twice as many as in the previous year.
EnBW is not only pushing forward electromobility for its customers but is also making its own corporate mobility more sustainable. As fleet manager, Heiko Luft has to keep a close eye on many aspects: operating costs, pollutant emissions, changes to taxation and whether there are enough vehicles available at the right time for the right job. The internal fleet comprises, for example, company cars for the sales force, delivery vehicles for technicians and small vans.
In 2017, EnBW decided that all corporate vehicles (passenger cars) should have an electrical component by 2025. So far, 1,200 of the around 4,500 passenger cars are e-vehicles. Heiko Luft has a clear opinion on this matter: “What I would recommend to every company is build the necessary internal infrastructure quickly, including charging options and parking spaces. Another important aspect is to use multipliers, offer them an electric car for a quarter of a year and report on them using internal media channels. This will keep everyone talking about it.”
Heiko Luft and his wife also drive electric cars at home. One trick they have both had to learn is how to integrate charging into everyday life so that, for example, they can always come back to a fully charged car after they have finished shopping. Luft junior is also growing up with electromobility. It is part of his everyday life and he loves the kick as the car accelerates.
Another person who really enjoys driving electric cars is the video artist Christopher Czichy: “I can’t recommend electromobility highly enough. It is like riding a rocket.” The high price of petrol is a subject frequently discussed in his circle of friends, but it is an issue that only vaguely interests him. With a twinkle in his eye, he says that filling the car with fuel is a complete waste of his time and “you always end up dripping petrol on your shoes.” “Another really practical aspect is that there is no longer any need for oil changes or regular services.”
Climate change stems from the way we do business, but that also means that we can use business to slow it down.
“We need more enthusiasm in order to advance electromobility,” says the Formula 1 world champion and sustainability entrepreneur Nico Rosberg. “The most important thing is that the desire for change comes from within. Anything that is forced will only meet with rejection. We have to make electromobility affordable and practical for everyone. This is why the charging infrastructure is so important.”
EnBW has secured a prominent ambassador for electromobility in Nico Rosberg. He is the face of the EnBW campaign “We charge Germany” and is involved in a wide range of sustainable activities. He also invests in green start-ups and technologies. “Climate change stems from the way we do business, but that also means that we can use business to slow it down,” says Nico Rosberg to explain his commitment to the cause. He predicts an exciting future for electromobility: “I can well imagine that I will frequently travel by electric air taxi in 2050, maybe even powered by solar energy and autonomously controlled. That would be cool, don’t you think?”
Andreas Schuster is content to know that when the sun shines in Meinersen on Tuesday, he can use the energy to “sail” to work on Wednesday.