According to forecasts, there will be more than 11 million electric cars in Germany by 2030. What role will Mer play in this?
We find ourselves in a field of tension between environmental protection and mobility: because of global warming and CO2 emissions, we can no longer rely on combustion engines, but on the other hand, we humans are dependent on mobility. I see Mer as a designer of a sustainable world in which we don't generally have to forego individual mobility with the automobile. There is a change in society at the moment: for the first time, people are willing to combine their mobility with sustainability. At Mer, we are enabling this new way of thinking to become reality. We provide the complete charging infrastructure and IT infrastructure for electromobility, using clean electricity from wind and water power. This fits the setup of our company because we are a 100% subsidiary of Statkraft, the largest producer of renewable energy in Europe.
How does Mer remain future-proof?
With Mer Solutions and Mer Germany, we offer a comprehensive portfolio for all application areas - from charging in your own garage to the provision of public charging points to the energy-safe charging of large corporate fleets. Not only do we have many years of experience, but we can also deliver the best experience through powerful solutions and good IT integration. I'm not an advocate of saying, "We need to replace every single car trip with electric driving." Of course, it's important that we include other options, such as expanding public transportation. Still, independent mobility by car is a great achievement for us humans. We don't want to stay in the same place and we need to be able to move autonomously - which is where electric mobility helps us in the long term.
How does the collaboration between Mer and the site partners work?
We help municipalities, public utilities and companies to expand their public charging infrastructure. This means that we set up, operate and manage the charging points. We take care of everything for our location partners, and they in turn benefit from the high attractiveness for customers and visitors. One example of this is McDonald's: the company is committed to sustainable standards, not only in energy management, but also in waste management. McDonald's has realised that electric cars could now be parked and charged in the parking areas of its restaurants. And why not? This can be combined very well, as the "Charge & Eat" concept states. At Mer, we offer an all-round carefree package so that our partners can commit to sustainability without any additional effort. We are always looking for new location partners who want to offer their customers the best possible service.
What is your personal charging pattern?
I charge my electric vehicle either at home, at work or where the vehicle is parked anyway. This also shows that electric mobility saves an enormous amount of time because I no longer have to drive to the filling station. My vehicle is charged wherever I have something to do. Whether it's in front of restaurants, supermarkets, hardware stores or furniture stores: I think this approach will be very popular in the near future. When I'm on the road for long distances, I like to take a short break after 2-3 hours anyway. It's important to me that the vehicle is fully charged again with a powerful fast-charging infrastructure.
How do you think the charging infrastructure will change in the next 20 years?
This is going in the same direction. There will be significantly more charging points and we will get to the point where we charge our vehicles wherever we park. Access will become more low-threshold and we will have a powerful fast charging network and high-capacity charging parks, so that long distances will not be a problem. I don't think we've reached the maximum range of 500 kilometres for cars yet either. But once the users have switched, they will notice that such ranges are not necessary at all. In combination with the good charging infrastructure, people will very quickly realize that it's not worth taking a heavy and expensive battery just to drive 1000 kilometers once a year. This also has something to do with sustainability, because resources are used unnecessarily that are not needed in practice. The batteries will be smaller, lighter and have a greater power density.
Some European countries want to ban petrol and diesel engines from 2030.
I can well imagine that, but I don't think we need strict legal regulations for that. The dynamics that the market has now achieved will take care of that by itself. In my opinion, customers will switch to electromobility for new registrations sooner. In Germany in particular, sales of internal combustion vehicles will fall sharply - we can already see this today in our company car fleets. Fleet managers are already converting on a large scale, and anyone who orders a combustion engine now for the last time will no longer do so in three years' time. By 2030, there will be three more renewal cycles for leases, which generally run for three years. Then the standard will be electric.
How satisfied are you with the actions of the federal government?
There are various programmes, such as financial subsidies for vehicle purchases and the expansion of the charging infrastructure. Of course, we can discuss certain individual actions and measures in Germany; that's what democratic discourse entails. More could be done, but I think good programs have been launched and much is still in the pipeline. We can see from the example of Norway that direct subsidies have a major impact on vehicle purchases. Over 50 percent of all new cars in Norway are electric vehicles, and government subsidies have led to this. The same VW Golf costs more as a gasoline-powered vehicle than the electric alternative. But what I would like to see: When it comes to expanding the charging infrastructure in Germany, there are bureaucratic hurdles that unnecessarily drag out our projects. You have to submit a lot of applications and wait a long time. One example: We wait up to twelve months for building permits for larger charging parks. Removing these obstacles and speeding up the process would help us to expand the charging infrastructure in Germany even faster. But that doesn't stop us at Mer from growing. We believe in our vision: electric for everyone.