Electromobility – the refusal of German transport policy to face reality

Not long ago, the so-called traffic light coalition in Germany made a bold statement: they want to see 15 million electric vehicles on German roads by 2030.

What’s the problem?

It seems that none of the protagonists bothered to perform simple mathematical calculations, which is why I feel compelled to make up for it today.

According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, 48.5 million passenger cars are currently registered in Germany. Of these, the share of all-electric vehicles (excluding PHEVs and HEVs) is about 700,000 units in May 2022. In recent years, new vehicle registrations have fallen to a level of about 2.6 million units annually. These 2.6 million vehicles include new registrations of BEVs.

8 years to go until 2030

So in 8 years, at least 8×2.6 million new vehicles could be registered, largely replacing old ones. But that’s only if growth stagnates at about the same rate as in the last 3 years, which is likely a result of the ongoing supply and chip crisis and won’t last forever. Nevertheless, let’s assume that these 20.8 million cars will be registered within 8 years. An extremely impressive number.

In 2022, 1.238 million passenger cars were registered in the first half of the year. Of these, 167,263 were pure electric vehicles. This means a market share of 13.5 percent.

Starting in 2023/24, almost all new registrations would have to be electric vehicles, or the math doesn’t add up!

If we assume that 20% of all new registrations in 2023 will be electric vehicles, that would still be 520,000 units, almost three-quarters the number of e-vehicles on German roads today. Apart from the fact that the OEMs are currently not in a position to supply such numbers as a result of the supply chain crisis, 13.78 million electric vehicles would then have to be registered in the remaining 7 years beginning 2023. That would be nearly 2 million e-vehicles annually.

The charging network

In addition, the sluggish development of the charging network in Germany is slowing down the switch to electric cars, according to a recent study. In an analysis published at the end of June, the consulting firm PwC concluded that “Germany will fall well short of its target of 15 million registered electric cars by 2030, putting only 10.5 million e-vehicles on the road.” Even for those 10.5 million, at least 340,000 public fast-charging points would be needed. “At the current pace, however, only 210,000 will be achieved.”

Even PwC’s professional, revised unit-volume expectation is unlikely to be realized, as that would mean that at least 1.5 million electric cars would have to be registered each year starting in 2023.

The energy problem

It should also be clear that these 15 million or even just 10.5 million electric vehicles will then consume a lot of electricity in 2030, especially in the evening hours. Since there are still no concrete plans for a smart grid, V2G technologies or similar things, and the charging infrastructure is also currently making little progress, supply is likely to become extremely tight in the evening hours in certain areas. Especially in light of Germany’s grandiose energy policy.

But hey, that’s a topic for another column.

About this column:

In a weekly column written alternately by Eveline van Zeeland, Eugene Franken, Katleen Gabriels, PG Kroeger, Carina Weijma, Bernd Maier-Leppla, Willemijn Brouwer and Colinda de Beer, Innovation Origins tries to figure out what the future will look like. These columnists, sometimes joined by guest bloggers, are all working in their own way to find solutions to the problems of our time. You can read previous installments here.

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