IAA Mobility Weekly: born to be electric

Nov 27, 2020

Soft humming instead of roaring: Harley-Davidson is creating its first pedelecs, while in Germany interest in special “filling” systems is growing. Japanese train designers are chasing new speed records, and German rail travel will soon be climate neutral. Read about all this and more in the fourth IAA Mobility Weekly.

Copyright: Harley-Davidson

The Lead: born to be electric

“Tough as Rockers, tough as choppers, tough as beer, tough e-bikes right here!” Maybe bikers will be chanting this refrain, or something like it, very soon.

This is because the US firm Harley-Davidson, one of the world’s most charismatic motorcycle manufacturers, is now producing stylish e-bikes. No, we’re serious, this demonstrates a healthy awareness of the growing market for e-bikes in Europe and the United States. How great is the demand on the other side of the pond? In 2019, US dealers imported 270,000 e-bikes. Figures from the business data company Bloomberg indicate that already somewhere between 500,000 and 600,000 pedelecs have been imported this year.

The motorcycle and bicycle maker from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, started delivering its impressive e-bikes to customers last spring. Several different “Serial 1” models are available. The name of the first electric collection pays tribute to the first Harley-Davidson dating from 1903. The firm’s first e-bikes cost between 3,400 and 5,000 dollars. 

The electric Harley bikes were developed by a team of bicycle AND motorcycle enthusiasts. “They designed and developed an e-bike that deserves the Harley-Davidson name,” says the manufacturer.

Infrastructure update: electricity on tap!

Producers of filling pumps have fallen on hard times recently, as festivals were canceled and restaurants closed. Across Germany, from January to July 2020 beer consumption fell by about 300,000,000 liters compared with the same period last year.

However, not all makers of “filling” systems are in crisis mood, Demand for pillars to charge electric vehicles has been rising continuously, thanks to the consistent growth in e-mobility. More and more drivers of e-vehicles want to “fill up” at private charging points.

According to the Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA), when the new nationwide infrastructure program was announced, 16,000 applications for more than 20,500 private charging points were filed with the ministry within the first 24 hours. “There has never been anything like it. It shows that our promotional scheme is spot on. With the right incentives we will ensure that people switch to climate-friendly e-cars. It must be possible to charge them anytime, anywhere,” German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer told the DPA.

Private individuals who buy and install wall boxes with an electricity connection will receive a subsidy of 900 euros. This bonus is available only for brand new charging stations. And the charging points must not be accessible to the public. The state subsidies are intended to encourage German motorists to shift to more environmentally-friendly alternatives and help close the gaps in the charging network.

Quote of the week: more pulling power

The Shinkansen (the “Bullet Train”) is the pride and joy of the Japanese mobility industry. The high-speed train with the characteristic duck-bill nose connects major cities in Japan including Tokyo and Osaka. It covers 515 kilometers in exactly two hours and 24 minutes – and does so dozens of times a day, in some cases at ten minute intervals. Yet most recently there was also some dissatisfaction: the trains were delayed by an average of 54 seconds. Typhoons or earthquakes? No excuse. 

The engineers are working toward even higher speeds in the latest version of the Japanese express: 360 kilometers per hour instead of a feeble 320. Recent tests reached speeds of 385 km/h. TV reporter Naoki Hashimoto was almost ecstatic – by Japanese standards.

„We travel very fast, but the teacup on the table hardly shakes at all. The noise level inside the train is also almost the same as in the previous Shinkansen.“

Naoki Hashimoto, TV reporter

Figure of the week: 11

The year 2020 has at least brought some cheer at the gas stations. The fuel prices fell several times, reaching almost record lows. Yet this welcome trend may be reversed at the turn of the year. The oil price recently rose to near its pre-crisis level, and the price of CO2 on 25 euros per ton of crude oil, combined with the end of the German VAT reduction, could send prices up again. The German automobile club ADAC is forecasting that the price of a liter of fuel will increase by 10 to 11 cents.

LinkedIn top voice of the week

Lawrence Leuschner, the founder of TIER Mobility, is regarded as the German e-scooter pioneer and wants to change “mobility to benefit the environment.”

Innovation update: the hydrogen guys

Hydrogen is a popular element. Even punk rockers like Campino, lead singer of the German band Tote Hosen, used hydrogen peroxide in the 1990s to bleach their hair platinum blonde. The fashion persisted for a few years in youth magazines and on the club scene.

Today, hydrogen is really back in vogue, also at Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) which is aiming for climate-neutral mobility by 2050. At present a large proportion of its trains already run on green electricity (60 percent of its energy comes from renewable sources), but the company has set itself the ambitious target of replacing another 1,300 diesel power cars. They serve on lines that have not yet been electrified and probably won’t be in the medium and long term. In all, Germany has 13,000 kilometers of track without overhead power cables (about 39 percent of the total network). In the future Deutsche Bahn wants to run hydrogen-powered trains on these little-used routes. The necessary locos are being developed by leading German technology firm Siemens. The company plans to start testing the hydrogen trains in the Tübingen area in 2024. The locos are expected to have ranges of up to 600 kilometers in the long term.

Siemens Mireo - Copyright: Siemens Mobility

Did you know… that Audi plans to make its vehicle production fully carbon neutral in the near future? Two of its sites are already setting environmentally-friendly standards. The factories in Brussels and Györ (Hungary) are carbon-neutral. To achieve this Audi applies solar systems, biogas and compensation certificates. The plant in Györ also boasts Europe’s largest solar rooftop. It produces an annual 9.5 gigawatt hours of electricity. Investments in the infrastructure are also expected soon at the facilities in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm (both in Germany) and San José Chiapa (Mexico) to enable them to follow suit. Peter Kössler, Member of the Board of Management for Production and Logistics, told the DPA: “By achieving carbon neutrality for our production sites and consistently carrying this aspiration into our supply chain, we ensure that our automobiles reach the customer with a smaller carbon footprint.”