In view of global climate change and air pollution problems in cities, there is growing pressure for action to be taken to reduce transport emissions and end this sector’s dependency on fossil fuels. Electric vehicles are a much-discussed option in this context.
But are electric vehicles the answer to transport-related environmental problems? How much electricity will be needed for e-mobility in future? Are sufficient raw materials available to build electric motors? How does Germany compare with other countries, and what does this mean for the future of its car industry?
These are just some of the frequently asked questions answered by the Oeko-Institut’s team of experts in the background paper Electromobility – Fact check. It provides an overview of many of the studies conducted by the Oeko-Institut on aspects of e-mobility – including its climate footprint, electricity and resource consumption, popularity and costs – and looks ahead to the future.
Electric vehicles offer climate benefits
Electric vehicles are already far more energy-efficient than vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. Even with the current energy mix in Germany, they already offer climate benefits, which will further increase as the energy transition (Energiewende) progresses. But this will not happen of its own accord: pro-active measures are still needed to expand the use of renewables. In order to meet the additional electricity demand from transport, further efforts must be made to increase energy efficiency outside the e-mobility sector as well.
Electromobility: a way into tomorrow’s transport
In the Oeko-Institut’s view, however, simply switching to electric vehicles is not enough to ensure sustainability in mobility. Although it will enable long-term climate targets to be achieved, this technological change alone cannot cut air pollution or the consumption of land, energy and other resources. What is needed is comprehensive transport system transformation (Verkehrswende) which, in future, will enable people to travel shorter distances to their destinations, to benefit from safe and convenient bicycle, pedestrian or public transport, and to experience the public space not merely as a road or car park.