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Power on the streets

09/19/2014 More than 300 visitors used around 30 electric vehicles to take a quick motorized tour of Berlin today. Entitled "eFahrzeuge erFAHREN – einsteigen & nachhaltig durchstarten” ("Experience electric vehicles – try them out and drive sustainably”), the event was organized by fleet managers from the Berlin Agency for Electromobility eMO and businesses as well as private individuals.

Industry experts offered workshops on the charging infrastructure, leasing e-cars, using electric commercial vehicles, and fleets for public agencies and government offices. The lively discussions all displayed an enthusiasm for electromobility. Yet they did not gloss over difficult matters such as the high purchase prices of electric vehicles and the challenges in converting publically owned fleets to electric power.

eMo director Gernot Lobenberg knows that wrinkles in the new technology still need to be ironed out but is convinced of the benefits. "It’s one thing to talk about electromobility and another thing to try it out,” he said. "Electromobility is a sensory experience, and everyone who has driven or ridden an electric vehicle knows what that means: smooth, racy, quiet, environmentally friendly – it’s just a lot of fun.”

The visitors didn’t need to be told twice, and set off to test the 19 passenger cars, 2 motorcycles, 3 pedelecs and 2 vans down to the last detail for a full nine hours. The test drives generally all produced the same result ? a happy smile on the driver’s face on arriving back at the start.

The program entitled "InitiativE Berlin-Brandenburg”, which was introduced at the event, will encourage the decision to shift company fleets to electric vehicles. Coordinated by the eMO and sponsored by the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB), it will assume 45 percent of the difference in cost between leasing electric cars and comparable combustion vehicles.

As Lobenberg observed, "Electric cars are now very close to being economical. The more often an electric car is used per year, the more profitable it becomes in terms of saving fuel. The subsidy from the BMUB speeds up this process all the more.”

This was reason enough for the event to be opened by Getrud Sahler, who directs the BMUB’s department of environment and health, emissions protection, plant safety and traffic. As she put it, "Electric cars need to find their way into people’s hearts and onto the roads.” She emphasized the advantages of electromobility. "Using electricity instead of petrol means trading expensive oil imports for regional added value.”

As coordinator of the Berlin research project "eFahrung”, the urban institute® (ui!) took the event as the occasion to present three additional electric cars to Securitas, a security company that is testing an e-car sharing program for its fleets.