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sts.components.contact.mr.placeholder Sebastian Webel
Mr. Sebastian Webel

Editor-in-Chief

Tel: +49 (89) 636-32221

Fax: +49 89 636-35292

Werner-von-Siemens-Straße 1
80333 Munich

Pictures of the Future
The Magazine for Research and Innovation
 

The Future of Mobility

Traveling Everywhere Electrically

E-Cars in Berlin. If transportation is to become largely CO2-free, electric mobility has a key role to play here.

Almost all of today’s vehicles run on fossil fuels. But if transportation is to become largely CO2-free, conventional drive systems will have to be replaced with alternative ones. Electric mobility has a key role to play here – on the water, on land, and in the air.

The world’s population is growing, and so is demand for mobility. As a result, the number of automobiles worldwide could increase from about 900 million today to around 2.4 billion by 2050. It is therefore obvious that global targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions can only be achieved if the share of emission-free vehicles is greatly increased – not only on roads, but also in the air and along sea lanes.

Studies show that electric mobility is the best alternative for cars and light trucks: That’s because battery-electric cars that use wind and solar power experience almost no loss of efficiency. Siemens itself is developing solutions for providing high-power charging infrastructures with power ratings of up to 350 kW.

However, many customers still refrain from buying electric vehicles, primarily due to their relatively short range and the continued lack of a sufficiently developed charging infrastructure.

If electric mobility is to replace conventional systems on our roads, Germany alone will need around 36,000 charging stations.

If electric mobility is to replace conventional systems on our roads, Germany alone will need around 36,000 charging stations and 7,000 quick-charging spots. Nevertheless, experts believe that the country will make significant progress in this area over the next ten years. For example, beginning this year, Germany’s federal government plans to spend €300 million to expand this infrastructure – enough to build about 10,000 normal charging stations and 5,000 quick-charging spots. However, the private sector will also have to get involved. One example of this is ChargePoint, a U.S. charging network specialist in which Siemens owns an interest. ChargePoint has installed 35,500 charging spots worldwide and now plans to intensify its activities in Europe. 

Universal Fuel

Numerous Siemens projects have shown that electric mobility need not be limited to cars. An example is the MF Ampere, the world’s first fully electric ferry, which has been operating on Sognefjord in Norway for the past two years. The vessel, which is equipped with drive technology from Siemens, has room for 120 cars and 360 passengers. The ferry crosses the fjord 34 times each day. During its brief stops, the ship is connected to quick-charging stations on land, which supply it with power generated from hydroelectric sources. The Norwegian shipping industry plans to use electric ferries on additional routes in the future.

Large road vehicles can also run effectively on electricity. For example, electric buses equipped with Siemens technology are in operation in Hamburg and Vienna. In Vienna, the buses recharge by connecting to the streetcar grid when they stop at the end of each route. Thanks to their high-performance lithium-ferrite batteries, they require only15 minutes to recharge. A versatile charging station has been used in Hamburg since 2016. With its lowerable pantograph, the station can recharge buses in just six minutes. The system is the first in the world that can recharge buses from a variety of manufacturers.

Electricity in the Air

Because increasing amounts of cargo are being transported on highways, trucks too will need to switch to alternative drive systems. To make this possible, Siemens has developed a system that functions like the overhead conductor systems used for electric trains. Siemens and the Swedish automaker Scania have now installed this technology, which is called  eHighway, along a two-kilometer stretch of a major road near Stockholm. Driven by the Swedish government’s interest in achieving a transportation sector that is independent of fossil fuels by 2030, the technology will be tested in daily operation with hybrid trucks under all kinds of weather conditions until 2018. At the end of 2018, a stretch of public eHighway near Germany’s Frankfurt Airport is scheduled to enter service.  

Siemens is also on track to introducing electric mobility technology in the most challenging field of transportation: aviation. To this end, Siemens has equipped the Extra 330LE aerobatics airplane with an electric drive system. In November 2016, this plane set a world record in ascent. The plane reached an altitude of 3,000 meters in just four minutes and 22 seconds, beating the previous record by one minute and ten seconds. This feat demonstrates that electric mobility is now definitively off the ground! In the future, it will play a key role in transforming our transportation systems on land, on the water, and in the air.

Tim Schröder
Picture credits: from top: 1. picture gettyimages; 2. picture Scania CV AB