Resource shortage and energy transition are “Achilles heels of electric cars”

Resource shortage and energy transition are “Achilles heels of electric cars”

Tuesday, 03.04.18 , written by Anja Schlicht What will mobility in Germany look like in the future? According to Ingrid Remmers, transport spokeswoman for the left-wing parliamentary group in the Bundestag, people will use “much more different means of transport.” The car will continue to be important, but lose importance – especially if cities give more space to cycling and pedestrian traffic. 

Exactly 555 cars came to 1,000 inhabitants in 2016. Thus, the car density in the Federal Republic has reached a new high, reports the Federal Statistical Office. Many cities and their inhabitants are becoming increasingly aware of the many car traffic. They suffer from clogged roads and high levels of pollution .

One way to mitigate at least the burden of pollutants is the electrification of buses and trains , says Ingrid Remmers. The pure exchange of private cars for electric vehicles, on the other hand, she considers too short. Why, explains the traffic expert in an interview with In it she also points out which problems electromobility is facing.

Ms Remmers, which topics do you currently employ in your Gelsenkirchen constituency in transport policy and infrastructure?

Ingrid Remmers: Gelsenkirchen suffers, like many cities in the Ruhr area, too much traffic. At measuring stations there are regularly too high pollutant values, especially nitric oxide. Due to the debt burden, public transport has also fallen by the wayside. Far too often, the wrong end was saved , so that the consequences for the people are clearly noticeable. They only reach large centers quickly, but apart from the main connections, they have to expect long waiting times, if there is even a stop.

Unfortunately, it does not look better when cycling. Main traffic arteries are provided with narrow gauge bike lanes, which are neither really inviting nor offer a real alternative because of their size and nature. Off the main arteries there are no bike paths.

We work closely with environmental and transport initiatives and local organizations to promote a transport concept that aims to reduce motorized private transport, as well as public transport, cycling and pedestrian traffic . Only through a coordinated approach that takes into account all modes of transport will we achieve healthier urban air, protect the environment and public health, and create space for more attractive, liveable inner cities.

In the coalition agreement, the Union and the SPD have agreed to make significant progress in electromobility in Germany. How well is Gelsenkirchen currently positioned?

Ingrid Remmers: Electromobility in Gelsenkirchen is focused and promoted by the city, but the stock of electric cars is dwindling . So there were less than 100 electric cars in the city at the beginning of the year. This is partly because only ten to twelve charging stations are available. On the other hand, Gelsenkirchen is under budgetary reserve.

So far, there are no electric buses in public transport, not least because of the lack of availability of these vehicles, which are not yet manufactured in Germany. Two transport companies are entering the city on buses, which together have taken eight hybrid buses into their fleet.

Overall, we are pleading for the electrification of buses and trains. From our point of view, it makes no sense to simply replace private cars with electric vehicles. This step neither reduces the number of vehicles nor is it a responsible use of the scarce resources needed for the batteries of electric cars.

In your opinion, what are the next steps to promote electric mobility at federal level?

Ingrid Remmers: First of all, it is important to look wider. Electromobility does not just mean electric cars, but also trains, trams and e-bikes. Why is hardly anyone speaking of the 680,000 e-bikes that were sold in Germany in 2017?

The trade associations have calculated that more than 3.5 million e-bikes are already on German roads. The e-revolution is already taking place here. Half of all journeys we make every day in Germany are shorter than ten kilometers. An ideal distance for the bike or electric bike. A good infrastructure for this is long overdue.

With regard to electric cars, it will be necessary to deal intensively with the problem of raw materials and the acceleration of the energy transition. These are the two environmental Achilles heels for electric cars. Without raw materials for the batteries can be produced in the long run no electric cars.

Would you personally rather drive an electric car or a diesel?

Ingrid Remmers: I’m in the process of getting an overview of e-bikes. My choice of transport is increasingly multimodal. That means, I choose the means of transport, which makes the most sense for the purpose: by train to Berlin, soon with the e-bike in my constituency, but also by car, occasionally by public transport.

Diesel drivers are currently particularly interested in the impending driving bans. In your opinion, what would be the best solution to averting these prohibitions while at the same time reducing nitrogen dioxide pollution so that the limits in cities and municipalities are met?

Ingrid Remmers: In addition, as a leftist we have already submitted an application to the Bundestag. The best solution is to oblige automakers to retrofit cars with SCR systems . This gives the betrayed car buyers finally the quality they wanted from the beginning and for which they have paid. The cars then have lower emissions of air pollutants not only in the lab, but also in real life on the road. In most cities driving prohibitions can be avoided.

Will citizens still be sitting in a car with diesel or gasoline engines in 15 years or will another drive technology be the measure of all things?

Ingrid Remmers: I do not think that the impending social changes are all about driving the cars. We will get completely new means of transport and thus completely new possibilities. I recommend looking at cargo bikes. It is quite amazing what has developed in recent years.

I think we will all use a lot more different modes of transport. If the train introduces a timetable, then many people will switch to the train. Our cities will probably become more people-friendly through city ​​squares that invite you to linger and where you can do different things centrally on short routes. In these cities we also have much more space for cycling and walking. The car will not disappear for sure, but it will be less important.

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