Electric Mobility Sector (source: iStock/ 100pk)

The future of mobility is electric

The Federal Government has launched extensive funding activities to support the electric mobility sector. 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, thereby reducing our dependency on petroleum. The zero-emission car of the future will be powered electrically by battery or fuel cell.


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, trains, bicycles and motorcycles – 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 over the entire range from plug-in hybrids through battery drivetrains to fuel cells:

  • 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).

Hybrid vehicles

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.

Electric Mobility Sector (source: BMVI)

Financial assistance by the Federal Government

One billion euros to fund electric mobility

Since 2009, the Federal Government has provided funding totalling around 3.7 billion euros and established a regulatory framework to make electric mobility more attractive. In addition, on 18 May 2016, a new package of measures to promote electric mobility totalling around one billion euros was adopted. 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

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 and 3,000 euros for specific externally chargeable hybrid vehicles. The funding will be paid retroactively for vehicles purchased on or after 18 May 2016 and will continue 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. Electric, hybrid or hydrogen-powered vehicles already account for over 70 percent of the Federal Transport Ministry's motor pool.

Electric Mobility Sector (source: BMVI)

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure's electric mobility financial assistance programme

Involved throughout the transport sector

With its ongoing Electric Mobility Financial Assistance Programme based on the June 2015 Electric Mobility Funding Guidelines, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is progressing research and development in the field of alternative drivetrains across all modes of transport. In addition, the Federal Transport Ministry is supporting local authority stakeholders in the deployment of electric mobility at the local level, and not just for passenger cars but across the entire spectrum of all modes of transport.

Field trials in the Electric Mobility Financial Assistance Programme

Since 2009, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has been implementing battery electric mobility projects in the Electric Mobility Pilot Regions financial assistance programme. The objective of this scheme was to achieve area-wide development of the technology and infrastructure from out of certain regional clusters (pilot regions). This was done by conducting numerous field trials as well as pilot and demonstration projects in a total of eight German pilot regions. One of these regions was, and still is, Hamburg: in Germany's second largest city, trials have been conducted to identify ways of integrating electric vehicles and the associated charging infrastructure into the everyday life of a major metropolis. Further forward-looking battery electric mobility programmes have been tested in the following regions: Rhine/Main, Rhine/Ruhr, Munich, Stuttgart, Berlin/Potsdam, Saxony and Bremen/Oldenburg.

Since 2015, the programme has had a new name – Electric Mobility at the Local Level. Building on the pilot regions, it has different priorities and is now pursuing a supraregional area-wide approach in order to boost a spread of electric vehicles (market ramp-up) that is as fast as possible.

Electric Mobility at the Local Level

To enable electric vehicles to take hold across the board as quickly as possible, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure's current Electric Mobility Funding Guidelines assist local authorities in actually implementing the breakthrough of electrically powered vehicles, including the necessary infrastructure, at the local level. To this end, they harness the potential inherent in towns and cities. Because local authority stakeholders are frequently the operators of vehicle fleets and motor pools and at the same time are responsible for mobility planning and general transport development at the local level. With its Electric Mobility Funding Guidelines, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is supporting the provision of electric vehicles with the aim of increasing the numbers of vehicles, especially in local authority fleets. By deploying the charging infrastructure required for these vehicles and connecting it to the electricity grid, thereby creating a connection with renewable energy sources, it is also supporting the decarbonization of the transport sector.

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 order to ensure an exchange of experience among the parties involved. During the "pilot regions" phase, this involved addressing overarching issues in the following thematic areas: user perspective, fleet applications, innovative vehicles and infrastructure and drivetrains, safety, infrastructure, spatial/urban and transport planning plus regulatory law. Since 2016, this scientific research support has been consolidating the relevant issues regarding market ramp-up and the further interlinking of electric mobility stakeholders within the context of electric mobility at the local level. The current thematic areas are now innovative drivetrains and vehicles, charging infrastructure, the regulatory framework and the market plus connected mobility.

Electric Mobility Sector (source: BMVI)

New charging infrastructure funding programme

Establishing charging infrastructure that meets present and future needs

A sufficient number of user-friendly charging stations is absolutely essential for the spread of electric mobility in Germany. Because many people will not purchase an electric vehicle unless they can recharge it within an acceptable period of time and in the vicinity of their home or place of work. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure's Charging Infrastructure Funding Guidelines are helping to establish a nationwide network of charging stations that will meet present and future needs.

15,000 new charging stations

Over the next four years, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will provide financial assistance totalling 300 million euros for the deployment of 15,000 charging stations. 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. Vehicles are to be charged as quickly as possible. Thus, in the future, high power direct current (DC) charging stations will ensure that vehicle keepers throughout Germany can recharge their electric cars without detours or waiting time. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is supporting the expansion of opportunity charging at locations where customers park their vehicles for a longer period of time and recharge them with alternating current (AC).

Electric Mobility Sector (source: BMVI)

National Programme of Innovation for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology

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. The National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Programme (NIP) dates back to 2007. 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 of the programme is to commercialize hydrogen and fuel cell technology as a future alternative to fossil fuels. Thus, for instance, it is possible to very efficiently 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.

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. In recent years, it has been possible, especially with the funding provided by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, to bridge the gap between basic research and development and the market. The Ministry currently provides around 50 million euros per annum for the continuation of the programme of innovation. Starting in 2018, this figure will rise to over 80 million euros. The primary objective of the measures planned by the Federal Ministry of Transport is to establish competitive mobility using hydrogen and fuel cells on the market in the next ten years. This includes the appropriate in-vehicle technologies and systems, but also the infrastructure required to refuel these vehicles. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is thus pursuing a technology-neutral approach in implementing its Mobility and Fuel Strategy. It is all about significantly reducing the use of carbon-based energy sources in the mobility sector (decarbonization).

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 direct market activation by providing capital grants, for instance for fuel cell vehicles or electrolysis systems for the generation of green hydrogen.