6 questions to Prof. Dr. Stefan Bratzel, Head of the Center of Automotive Management, on the sustainability of mobility
In an interview with Prof. Dr. Stefan Bratzel, Director Center of Automotive Management
Author: House of Eden
The future of the automotive industry is emerging now. We can see the change outright. electric mobility, Sharing systems and autonomous driving are current trendsthat are already noticeably represented on the streets. Nonetheless, combating climate change needs more accelerators for a real transformation. Prof. Dr. Stefan Bratzel deals with the transformation of the automotive industry in the scientific Center of Automotive Management (CAM) for empirical automotive and mobility research. In an interview with Haus von Eden he gives an insight into the mobility of tomorrow and clarifies current myths.
Prof. Dr. Stefan Bartezl, head and director of CAM
1. No new vehicles with internal combustion engines from 2035 - is that the solution?
Yes, I believe that there is no alternative to electricity when it comes to climate protection and the laws. We have the vehicles for this, but the charging infrastructure still needs to be improved. In addition, the topic of electromobility is only green if the electricity for charging the vehicles is generated sustainably and thus the entire value chain, if possible Co2 neutral and is designed to be sustainable. This represents a major challenge for the next few years. But other alternatives do not offer a better solution.
The subject of hydrogen is often mentioned; this is a subject that is more of a theoretical debate at the moment, because we don't have enough (green) hydrogen, so to speak. I currently see no chance for hydrogen on long-haul routes or for cars, at best in local public transport. We don't have enough regenerative electricity that you would need three times more to have the same amount of energy on your bike. So we should concentrate on the topic of electric mobility and efficiency improvement.
2. Are there now more sustainable battery technologies?
Battery technology is still a very big challenge. One has to reduce the manufacturing costs in order to make electrical ones mobility also remains affordable. But another major challenge is to make the entire value chain greener. Essentially, it is also about promoting the possible reduction in raw materials. Here, too, you have to take precautions and keep an eye on the entire value chain.
There is also a lot of research going on around the alternative solid-state batteries. However, this is not a short-term issue. Because in the next few years the vast majority of battery cells will require lithium. Therefore, it is now a matter of efficiency issues in order to reduce raw materials as much as possible. Kobold is also such a point, there has already been great progress so that the use of the raw material can be reduced. So it shows that a lot is still possible.
Then we have another topic: recycling. That is, if the return takes place at some point. That will happen in the next 10 years. And then you have to recover a large part of the raw materials. Because batteries age, but the raw materials can be almost completely recycled.
Source & Copyright by Deutsche Bahn, hydrogen charging station
3. What about the democratization of charging stations?
Yes, it is part of this overall topic that you have a charging infrastructure that is tight, widely accessible and reliable. That the driver can rely on it from A to B. That the charging station shown is free and working. This cannot be taken for granted, as Tesla has a huge advantage with its own charging infrastructure. The other manufacturers are also working to get a better grip on this issue. On the long haul, this is one of the main problems.
The problem is that the charging infrastructure in Germany is occupied by a large number of actors. They are usually municipal utilities, they are bigger players like ENGB. But there are over a hundred providers. On the part of the state, better framework conditions should actually have been set for a long time. It doesn't make sense that there are only monopolists in certain regions who can dictate the price at some point. But it is also clear that manufacturers have even more responsibilities. Because if the manufacturers do not tackle the issue with pressure, then there is relatively little movement. But now they also have the greatest pressure, because they have to sell cars.
4. Do you see a problem in data sharing?
When it comes to data protection, you have to look carefully and precise legal requirements are required. It is interesting, however, that one pays very close attention to this when it comes to cars, but when it comes to Google, Apple and Co., "ok" is pressed quite quickly. In the automotive sector there are a multitude of options for deriving monetization from fast data. Data-based insurance is where we will see progress relatively quickly now. The driver's data is evaluated, how fast is he driving, how is he accelerating, how is he driving up. Very good insurance tariffs can then be derived from this data.
If I know the customer very well, I can, for example, suggest that they drink a coffee at the right time. Various players outside the automotive market can also benefit greatly from this. China is a few years ahead of us here, that has to be said very clearly. The subject of data protection plays a different role here; the state simply dictates things.
Source & Copyright by Tesla, Giga Factory
5. What role do automobile shows like the IAA still play today?
This IAA is similar to the whole industry in a major transformation. This can also be seen when you are on site. But it wasn't a big surprise. The stands are much smaller and suddenly there is now a hall with bicycles. That was not the case before. Vehicles with combustion engines have to be looked for almost with a magnifying glass. And the discussion formats are clearly expanded, which previously had a smaller share.
This is new and at the same time a major challenge for an automobile fair like IAA Mobility. Brands like Tesla rarely appear at trade fairs. Because they have the opportunity to communicate differently. A great marketing machine is, for example, founder Elon Musk himself, who distributes his messages via Twitter. And then Tesla does what many are now doing in a similar way: in-house exhibitions. So you just invite journalists on site. That is a changed situation.
6. Will the mobility of today still exist in the future and what role will Germany play in this?
Mobility will change dramatically in the next 10 years. Of course we still have private mobility, especially in rural areas. We see a strong development in the urban regions to the effect that the share of private car traffic is being reduced. And that in favor of public transport, including bicycle traffic and pedestrian traffic.
It has to do with parking lots and lanes. Of course, offers and transport services such as car sharing are also needed, which are increasingly autonomous on the roads. Autonomous shuttles will also come in the next 5 to 10 years. Only in limited areas on separate tracks, but in the longer term with significantly expanded offers. In the highest expansion stage, we see it in such a way that no driver is sitting there anymore. We already have some of this in America, even if only in very limited use cases. European cities are of course much more complex.
According to the CAM innovation index, Germany is a pioneer. Germany has a relatively broad technology base, which is a big advantage. We have the most important premium manufacturers in Germany, which means we can ask a little more for them and are quite innovative together with Tesla. But for some years now we have also seen a tendency for Chinese carmakers to get better and better. Also with the support of suppliers from the west.
Thank you for the interview Prof. Dr. Stefan Bratzel