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German government to foster e-cars

August 19, 2009 | | 219400635
In a 'National Development Plan Electromobility', the German government has agreed to foster development and public acceptance of electric cars. The main focus is on development of batteries and the related charging infrastructure.

MUNICH, Germany — In a 'National Development Plan Electromobility', the German government has agreed to foster development and public acceptance of electric cars. The main focus is on development of batteries and the related charging infrastructure.

By the year 2020, the government hopes to see one million electric vehicles on Germany's roads. In order to catch up the backlog the German automotive industry has against its competitors in other countries, in particular Japan, the German federal research ministry plans to spend €200 million (about $282 million) in R&D. According to other sources, the spending will amount to €500 million.

The R&D program has two focus points: First, batteries for electric and hybrid cars. This is not entirely new; German research minister Annette Schavan has committed to intensifying the research on lithium ion batteries several times over the past months. In the announcement of Wednesday (August 19), she named an amount of €170 million for batteries and another €30 million for the charging infrastructure. Other ministries however are also involved in the plan and are expected to announce their own budgets soon.

The second focus point is the development of the infrastructure necessary to charge or exchange the batteries. "We have to rethink the car," Schavan said. "We need completely new vehicle concepts and an alternative refilling/recharging infrastructure."

A central point in the infrastructure concept is the link between electromobility and renewable energies. "Only the availability of renewable energies will make electric cars zero-emission vehicles," said the ministry of economics in a press release. With this statement, the officials indirectly endorse schemes under development in countries such as Denmark and Israel to use car batteries as energy storage pool when the vehicles are not in use.

Another element of the German plan is to offer financial incentives for the first 100.000 buyers of electric cars in the years through 2012. However, concrete figures were not announced.

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