WHow will we move in the future - by hydrogen car, cargo bike or even by air taxi? What a few years ago was a boring niche topic in the back third of the party programs is not only an important election campaign topic today - environmentally friendly mobility and its financing have become a part of everyday life for many Germans.
The local economy has been dealing with the issue for some time. Because for the automotive, transport and energy sectors, billions are at stake - and in an emergency, future survivability too.
There is often talk of the climate change in connection with mobility, and many companies are currently switching to new technologies. There are challenges and political conflicts - at the WELT mobility summit on Thursday in Berlin, various actors entered into a dialogue.
Shy in campaign mode
Andreas Scheuer (CSU) is not a fan of words like "Wende" or "Umbruch". He prefers to speak of “progress and further development”, says the Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, who switched on digitally from his Bavarian homeland. The mobility of the future is still his “favorite topic”, he even wishes for “more front pages”.
Not very subtly, but without naming a name, Scheuer shoots in the direction of political competition: “Climate goals must be realistic and technically feasible, I am against bans and price increases. Instead, we have to remain open to technology. ”For example, with the engine:“ The combustion engine can be further developed with other fuels, ”Scheuer is certain.
The end of the decade is by no means the end of the combustion engine. What Scheuer probably didn't know at this point in time: Just hours after this sentence, Opel announced that it would be the next carmaker to only produce e-cars from 2028.
There are also disagreements on the topic of charging stations: Audi board member Hildegard Wortmann calls for more political effort; Her group recently decided that it would hardly want to produce any combustion engines in just a few years. Scheuer protests that this is also his concern - and pushes the ball to Olaf Scholz, who is not present: "If the finance minister releases the 300 million euros that we are demanding, we can add something more."
Politically, it is also when it comes to speed limits, which Scheuer calls a "fetish". "Every year this topic comes up again in the summer slump - but the advocates did not bring new arguments."
The end of your own car?
Audi boss Hildegard Wortmann is certain that “the future is electric”. Millennials in particular would expect a “brand attitude” - because climate change cannot be delayed. Wortmann advertises their electric cars: "E-mobility is not a waiver, it's fun."
After initial skepticism, many customers would "raise the corners of their mouths" during a test drive. She believes it is a rumor that young people no longer want their own car - they just put more emphasis on environmentally friendly technology. “Sustainability is the new premium,” says Wortmann.
Encrusted public transport
A declared opponent of cars is Andreas Knie, head of the digital mobility research group at the Berlin Science Center for Social Research: "The car dominance in German cities was politically wanted for decades - that has to change." Knie speaks of it, "Cars take up space“And having to give it to bicycles and public transport instead.
Parking must also become more expensive. He sees the future in trains and buses - but the conditions there were ailing: “The German public transport system is an outdated system from the 50s, simply not up to date.” Knie's judgment: Too rigid and not open to innovation.
Eva Kreienkamp, the head of the Berlin transport company, naturally sees it differently. In the capital, for example, they want to improve the “quality of stay” in the stations and trains.
The BVG is also suffering from a passenger slump - which, however, can be explained as a result of the corona. “We experiment a lot with new ideas,” says Kreienkamp. But sometimes there are “birth pains”. One reason for this: "Politicians have not dealt with public transport for too long."
What the decision-makers could now do better is obvious to the traffic experts Jürgen Gies from the German Institute for Urban Studies and Jan Schilling, Managing Director of the Association of German Transport Companies. More funding is needed, there are many ideas: more flexible job tickets adapted to home office, staggered school times, cooperation with housing associations, or better connections to car sharing providers.
Flight shuttle instead of ICE
Getting travel traffic up in the air - that is Lilium boss Daniel Wiegand's plan. First of all, personal traffic in the air could be a rather expensive undertaking, he admits. “The medium-term goal, however, are prices similar to those on the ICE.” And that's what they want Bavarian start-up Make competition, at least on routes such as Munich - Zurich, on which there are hardly any direct connections.
“It doesn't make sense to fly a few kilometers to get bread,” says Wiegand. The focus should be on flights from city center to city center. The Lilium CEO is generally optimistic: In 2050, all mobility in Germany will be electric.
Christoph Weigler, head of Uber Germany, thinks this is less realistic. “The political will for e-mobility fails too often in practice.” Weigler, who says he often rides a cargo bike, thinks little of bans. "Getting people out of your own car only works with attractive offers: ride sharing, apps, pooling, and more attractive public transport as the backbone."
Before the electric era really took off, some companies and investors had already switched to another promising mobility technology: Hydrogen.
This is "indispensable if you take climate change seriously," says Uwe Gackstatter, chairman of the Powertrain Solutions division at Bosch. On the way to CO2-free mobility, he would like to see less political interference - and more freedom for companies and engineers.
Barbara Metz, deputy managing director of Deutsche Umwelthilfe, has a completely different opinion. Hydrogen is by no means a solution for car traffic; the energy required for production would be a "climate disaster". "Let's be honest, hydrogen is only available in test-tube quantities; it is not produced on a large scale anywhere." Metz says that environmental aid is not about "tearing people's cars off under the bum".
But the efforts made by politics in the area of local public transport and bicycle traffic were simply not enough. Your conclusion on hydrogen: "It only makes sense where there is no alternative - for example in industry or in flight."