Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Electrical Cars and Germany

Battery-powered cars in Germany are on a trend.  In 2011, there were 2,154 total electric cars registered in Germany.  Last month (September 2014), the number was 21,256.

What's with the growth, and where does this lead onto?

I think  prior to 2010.....the amount of battery-power and number of kilometers per charge was a limiting factor, and the vast German mentality was that it wasn't worth the pain or cost to get involved.

At some point, the major players in electric car usage crossed some mythical threshold, and urban usage made some sense.  Germans live more in urban communities than rural areas, and the vast number require thirty kilometers or less in getting to work.

If you look around at the cost of fuel over the past decade....presently today sitting at 1.45 Euro per liter.....the electric car starts to be enticing.  A decade ago.....fuel ran near 1.10 Euro per liter.

Recharging stations?  If you sit and look around various communities now and some industrial areas....there's been a handful of recharging stations put up.  Some get used.....some have never been used.  I watched a news report one night where a community put up a station (charging the cost to you and your credit card) near a McDonalds on the autobahn.  If you figure the asphalt and charger, with the signs....the community put out over 20,000 Euro.  The McDonalds employees indicated that they'd never seen a single car sitting there for a charge.

The cost factor?  Renault has put up the Twizy....which is a bare-essentials two-seater....that they sell without the battery package.  You lease the batteries (no third-party involvement as far as I can see, just the dealer and you).  The cost 7,690 Euro for the higher speed version, with a fifty-Euro a month fee on the leased battery.  I admit...this 600 Euro a year for the battery is a negative, but that's the way they designed the gimmick.

The Twizy has appeal....being low in cost and a guy could use it for his drive-to-work car.  The negatives?  Max speed is 50 kph, and national laws forbid it on the autobahn or national roads, so it's local road or urban streets vehicle.  It's just in the range of being a guy's "toy".  Nothing more.

The BMW I3?  It's a hefty 33k Euro.  The Citrone Berlingo?  It's a hefty 26,220 Euro.

I suspect the cost factor is the anchor holding back a number of Germans.  You don't want to buy into a car which is only a work-car or shop-locally-car.

I also notice for the most part that no one talks about their electrical house bill prior to the acquisition of the car, and the new updated bill a year later after they procure the car.  It's an odd thing, that journalists just tend to skip over, and you have to imagine that there is some trade-off on gas versus electrical.  More or less?  Don't know.  If you bought into this deal and your monthly electrical bill suddenly shot up to 150 Euro more a month.....you'd be upset.  But then you'd admit the 225 Euro a month for gasoline bills just plain disappeared.

All of this leads back around to the topic of the national grid.  Germans say (in today's news) that they are using seven-percent less electricity than they did in 2012.  It's not broken down and it might be curious how they saved on electrical usage by that much.

Let's say that by 2020.....there are 150,000 electrical cars on the road in Germany.  Will the grid be able to support a bunch of folks arriving back home at 6PM and all hooking up their cars for a recharge?  I would have my doubts.  In fact, I might even suggest that they'd eventually have a timer hooked up in the garage.....which put the charge through....at a cheaper point (like midnight to 5AM), and save forty-percent off their usage bill.

Electrical car usage in Germany overtaking US consumers?  I could easily see a point by 2030 where half the cars in Germany were battery-powered.  If range was extended and the general cost went down a bit on batteries.....it'd help.  But this grid thing......I have my doubts that anyone has sat there and done some imagination on this and realized the impact on electrical consumption and the current German grid.

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