The Federal Government has launched extensive funding activities to support electric mobility – in the form of battery powered vehicles and fuel cell powered vehicles fed with hydrogen. The objective is to make the transport sector more energy efficient, reduce its climate change impact and make it more environmentally sustainable. To this end, electric mobility must be established on the market and made competitive. At the same time, new renewable sources of energy are to be developed, especially for road transport, thereby reducing our dependency on petroleum. The vehicle of the future will be powered electrically – by battery or fuel cell.
The future of mobility is electric
Electric mobility as a building block of sustainable mobility
The term electric mobility (also known as eMobility) stands for forms of movement using electric motors. Cars, buses, commercial vehicles, trains, bicycles and motorcycles, ships and smaller aircraft – all can be powered by electric energy.
An electrically powered vehicle within the meaning of the Electric Mobility Act is an all-battery electric vehicle, an externally chargeable hybrid electric vehicle or a fuel cell powered vehicle.
Electric mobility is a key technology for developing a clean and efficient transport system. Fossil energy sources such as petroleum or natural gas used by our road vehicles have for years been producing CO2 emissions that are too high and that are increasingly contributing to climate change. The electricity required by electric vehicles is provided either by heavy-duty batteries or by a fuel cell. In a fuel cell, the chemical energy of hydrogen is directly converted into electricity. Electric vehicles are recharged at charging stations or are refuelled with gaseous hydrogen at filling stations. They are quiet and, at the point of use, produce zero emissions that are harmful to the climate and human health. Electric vehicles powered by electricity from renewable sources are therefore a good alternative to vehicles with internal combustion engines.
The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure supports applied research and development in the electric mobility sector, the procurement of electric vehicles and the deployment of charging infrastructure (electric vehicle charging stations and hydrogen refuelling points) in Germany on a technology-neutral and cross-modal basis.
The Federal Ministry of Transport provides financial assistance for plug-in hybrids, battery drivetrains and fuel cells:
- in road passenger and freight transport (e.g. for passenger cars, electric buses, commercial and delivery vehicles);
- battery and fuel cell drivetrains in rail transport (diesel hybrid traction);
- battery and fuel cell drivetrains in aviation (for instance fuel cells for on-board energy supply);
- battery and fuel cell drivetrains in shipping (fuel cells for electricity supply).
A hybrid drivetrain combines two different drivetrain systems: the vehicle has an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Depending on the design, the engine and the motor can power the vehicle together or independently of each other. A parallel hybrid is powered by both the internal combustion engine and the electric motor. In the case of a serial drivetrain system, on the other hand, the engine merely drives a generator, which acts as an electricity supplier and feeds the electric motor's battery. The vehicle is thus powered by electricity only. Plug-in hybrids can be recharged at a simple domestic socket or at a charging station.
Support measures of the Federal Government
Five billion euros to fund electric mobility so far
Since 2009, the Federal Government has provided funding totalling around 5 billion euros and established a regulatory framework to make electric mobility more attractive. Over the period to 2020, a total of 300 million euros will be available for the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure alone.
Attractive incentives for purchasers of vehicles
Furthermore, since June 2016, there has been in Germany a financial incentive (environmental bonus) for the purchase of plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars. One half of this bonus is funded by the Federal Government and the other half by the automotive industry. It amounts to 4,000 euros for all-electric vehicles (powered by battery or fuel cell) and 3,000 euros for externally chargeable hybrid vehicles. Funding will be provided until the federal funds earmarked for this purpose and totalling 600 million euros have been completely disbursed or until 2019, whichever is sooner. Purchasers of electric vehicles can submit the appropriate applications for funding to the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control, which is the competent authority.
The Federal Government is setting an example of good practice
The Federal Government is investing a further 100 million euros in its own fleet. In the future, 20 percent of the Federal Government's motor pool is to consist of electric vehicles. Battery electric, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen-powered vehicles already account for over 74 percent of the Federal Transport Ministry's motor pool.
The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure's battery electric mobility financial assistance programme
Funding across all modes of transport
With its ongoing Electric Mobility Financial Assistance Programme based on the updated version of the Electric Mobility Funding Guidelines of December 2017, the Federal Ministry of Transport is progressing research and development in the field of alternative drivetrains across all modes of transport. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is supporting local authority stakeholders in the deployment of electric mobility at the local level, not just for passenger cars but also, for example, in the procurement of commercial vehicles, buses or trains.
To enable electric vehicles to take hold across the board as quickly as possible, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure's Electric Mobility Funding Guidelines assist local authorities in the procurement of electrically powered vehicles including the necessary infrastructure.
A second priority of the Guidelines is the provision of financial assistance to applied research and development schemes. The aim is to reduce the costs of the technologies, components or systems required. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure's financial assistance programme is coordinated by the National Organization for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW).
Scientific research support to the programme
At the programme level, the findings of the funded projects are consolidated by scientific research support in the thematic areas of innovative drivetrains and vehicles, charging infrastructure, the regulatory framework and the market plus connected mobility in order to ensure an exchange of experience among the parties involved.
Charging Infrastructure Financial Assistance Programme
Establishing charging infrastructure that meets present and future needs
A charging infrastructure that provides universal coverage throughout the country and that is tailored to the needs of the customers is a key prerequisite for the ramp-up of electric mobility in Germany. Many people will not consider purchasing an electric vehicle unless they can recharge it within an acceptable period of time, in a user-friendly manner and in the vicinity of their home or place of work. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure's Charging Infrastructure Funding Guidelines make a major contribution towards establishing a nationwide network of charging stations that will meet present and future needs.
15,000 new charging stations
Over the period to the end of 2020, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will provide financial assistance totalling 300 million euros for the deployment of at least 15,000 charging stations accessible to the public. Of this funding, 100 million euros is earmarked for normal power charging and 200 million for high power charging. The purpose is to deploy battery electric vehicle charging infrastructure that provides universal coverage throughout Germany and meets present and future needs. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is providing financial assistance for charging post hardware and connection to the grid with funding rates of up to 60 percent.
The two charging technologies will complement each other to an even greater extent in the future. High power direct current (DC) charging ensures that vehicle keepers throughout Germany can recharge their electric cars without detours or waiting time. Normal power alternating current (AC) charging is primarily designed for places where customers park for a longer period of time.
In 2017, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure launched two calls for applications for funding within the scope of the Charging Infrastructure Funding Guidelines. Almost 3,000 applications were submitted in total. Further calls for applications for funding within the scope of the Guidelines are planned for the future. In the course of 2018, a location tool will be developed that is to be used for the overall coordination of a charging infrastructure that meets present and future needs.
Electric mobility with hydrogen/fuel cells
Innovative mobility thanks to alternative fuels
In the medium to long term, we will have to convert our transport system to sustainable technologies if we wish to remain mobile in the future. Apart from battery electric mobility, vehicles can also be powered by hydrogen. Thus, for instance, it is possible to store energy derived from renewable sources in the form of hydrogen and use it in an environmentally friendly manner independently of the place where it was generated. These features make hydrogen especially interesting for mobile applications. In vehicles, hydrogen is usually used in combination with fuel cells. A hydrogen-powered fuel cell converts the gaseous hydrogen together with atmospheric oxygen directly into electricity in an electro-chemical process. The only thing that is released is pure water vapour. Fuel cells are highly efficient and clean.
The Federal Government has therefore already been supporting this promising technology since 2007 with the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Programme (NIP). It is implemented by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure as a cross-departmental programme in collaboration with the industry and academia. The objective is to commercialize hydrogen and fuel cell technology as a future alternative to fossil fuels. Fuel cells constitute a useful complement to battery powered vehicles, in particular in the case of demanding requirements to be met by the vehicles' range, in topographically difficult terrains, for heavy vehicles such as luxury cars, for the commercial vehicle sector or for trains and ships.
Remaining competitive on the international stage
As a result of the stable regulatory framework, and on the basis of the funding opportunities offered by the NIP, a branch of industry has emerged in Germany that is internationally competitive. The Federal Government invested 700 million euros over the period from 2006 to 2016. The same amount was provided by the industry. Thanks to this initiative, it has been possible in recent years to bridge the gap between basic research and development and the market. With NIP 2 (2016-2026), the technology is to be established on the market and made competitive. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is providing around 80 million euros per year for this purpose. At present, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is funding hydrogen and fuel cell technology through two sets of funding guidelines – the first set for research, development and innovation, and the second set for market activation by providing capital grants, for instance for fuel cell vehicles, refuelling infrastructure or electrolysis systems for the generation of green hydrogen.