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The evolution of the electric car is a success according to Stephan Neugebauer, Director of Global Research Cooperation at the German car manufacturer BMW. In his opinion, subsidies from the European Union and the member states play a major role in this.

This is why there are so many different types and sizes of electric vehicles available nowadays. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to the market. Neugebauer’s general conclusions are that these cars are too expensive, do not have enough range and there are not enough charging stations. Which is why the EU should invest more money in a better charging infrastructure, as he advised senior officials of the European Commission last week.

‘No one buys a car without a charging station’

“No one will buy an electric car if you can’t charge it near your work or home. It’s as simple as that. That is why we must continue our partnership with the European Union [as in: EU-funded research, ed.]  Except that we no longer need to focus solely on the actual development of the car itself, as has been mainly the case in recent years. We should focus on cooperation with others, like energy companies and municipalities.”

As far as Neugebauer is concerned, the aim is to create a finely knit network of charging stations. This is only possible if municipalities make room for these in their spatial planning proposals. At the same time, he wants to see more charging stations where you are able to charge at a faster rate. This will require cooperation with energy companies.

Stephan Neugebauer (in the middle), BMW Foto: Lucette Mascini

‘The EU should pay for cooperation’

In the words of the BMW Director, it is about various stakeholder organizations, including the car industry itself.  Yet also, for example, about those companies who are providing digital services, all working together in order to get this new infrastructure up and running. This collaboration should be paid for out of the EU’s research budget which is part of the Horizon Europe program. This will amount to approximately 100 billion euros over the next few years.

The electric car can only conquer the market if it becomes just as easy to charge as a mobile phone, Neugebauer believes. “You just have to be able to drive somewhere and stick the plug into a socket so that you can charge a car. That’s my vision for the future.”

‘New fuels needed for hybrid cars’

There should also be charging stations for hybrid cars. “You should expect that various  types of electric cars are needed for different purposes. You can drive an electric car in town, whereas for longer distances you will need a hybrid that also uses a combustion engine. It is important that we develop an alternative fuel for these cars, so that we no longer need to use fossil fuels.”

Or else we will not be able to achieve the EU’s target of being almost totally carbon-neutral by 2050.