Lockdown and travel restrictions are sweeping traffic queues off the roads this Christmas. Next year charging pillars should be springing out of the ground like mushrooms. Bicycle manufacturers are optimistic and have big plans for the coming year. This is the last IAA Mobility Weekly of 2020.
Europe’s arterial routes are usually somewhat clogged with traffic as the holiday season gets under way. The traffic is slow and we can count ourselves lucky if we’re driving to visit family in a comfortable car. Anticipation is a good antidote and relieves the stress of stop-and-go traffic.
But everything is different this year. Before the holiday starts, even busy freeways could be as empty as they are when Germany is playing in the FIFA World Cup. The German automobile club ADAC expects congestion only in exceptional cases, and otherwise the traffic should flow freely everywhere. Only on December 27 will there be a noticeable increase in traffic on the main roads.
Deutsche Bahn’s railroad carriages are expected to be even emptier. Across the country, the company is scheduling numerous extra trains in the run-up to the holiday period, to reduce the number of passengers on each train. This should minimize the risk of infection.
Trains, long-distance buses, and cars – anyone who has to travel and wants to arrive quickly and safely at their destination has several options this year. But reindeer are not among them. That’s because of the “poronkusema,” a unit of distance well-known to Finnish breeders. It’s the farthest that reindeer can go before they need a comfort break – about 7.5 kilometers. Reindeer can’t walk and wee at the same time. So that means stop and go every 7.5 kilometers for any road user in a sleigh pulled by nine reindeer (especially if it’s heavily laden with Christmas gifts).
In some places it almost seems as if the charging pillars were scattered randomly, such as in front of supermarkets or next to the sidewalk. According to the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), at the end of November there were 32,110 public charging points in Germany, which is not nearly enough. Recently the number of electric vehicles on German roads has been climbing rapidly. The VDA has counted 312,141 new registrations of e-cars this year alone. Experts estimate that for one million e-vehicles nearly 70,000 charging points will be needed, plus another 7,000 fast charging stations. Germany is farther from this target than it is from a white Christmas.
This is serious! Many potential drivers of e-cars see the lack of charging infrastructure as a major argument for not switching to an electric car. Motorists who want to make longer trips frequently cannot choose the shortest route. Instead, they have to plan their journey from one charging point to the next using charging maps.
However, under the German Government’s incentive program charging pillars may soon be springing out of the ground like mushrooms. Investments in charging points and fast charging pillars will be heavily subsidized. Anyone who wants to know the density of the public charging network in their registration district can call it up on a database.
The corona year 2020 was a year of social and economic crisis. But it was also a time of breakthrough, at least for vehicles with alternative powertrains. Demand for electric and hybrid vehicles was higher than ever before. Yet this record is not going to last for long – industry associations expect next year to bring a much larger increase in the popularity of e-mobility. For example, according to a study by the electricity utility E.ON, 64 percent of German motorists could imagine buying an electric car. Many of them will probably do so next year and sales of up to 500,000 electric vehicles are being forecast. If these expectations are fulfilled, there could be more than 1,000,000 electrically powered vehicles on Germany’s roads by 2022 at the latest. That would be like breaking the sound barrier.
The IAA is moving from Frankfurt to Munich, right into the heart of Bavaria, which is home to the manufacturers BMW and Audi. Here the IAA Mobility will showcase the future of sustainable mobility in September 2021. Bavarian Minister-President Dr. Markus Söder (CSU) expects it to make innovations for sustainable mobility visible and tangible:
For decades, the news about mobility innovations generally reported on airplanes, cars, trains and huge ocean-going ships. Everything went further, higher, faster. But a bicycle remained a combination of handlebars, pedals and a saddle. However, the growing interest in inner-city micromobility is also stimulating investment in the humble bike. The European bicycle market could very soon swell to 30 million bicycles per year – which would be 47 percent more than before the crisis.
In Germany in particular, the makers of pedelecs are enjoying record figures. For example the Dutch company VanMoof has pushed up its sales by 324 percent compared to last year. The motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has already reacted to the rising demand and is launching e-bikes onto the market. Suddenly a Harley seems universally affordable. Other innovations such as air taxis and self-driving buses are also making rapid progress. Mobility could soon be more varied, more flexible, more spectacular and more environmentally friendly than even the visionaries imagined only a few years ago. And just how innovative it is will be demonstrated at the latest at the IAA Mobility from September 7 to 12, 2021.
Did you know… that this year, Coca Cola’s Christmas trucks are staying in the depot? Along with the Christmas markets, the popular tours by these mobile advertisements have been cancelled. The company stated that this was for safety reasons. Next year the trucks should be back on the roads. But until then you can get in the mood by listening to Melanie Thornton and watching the videos on YouTube. Enjoy!