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Electricity Company invests in 500 E-bikes

Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW), Germany's third largest energy company, is now also operator of Germany's biggest fleet of electric 2-wheel vehicles. A 500-strong fleet of e-scooters and e-bikes was assembled for an ambituous research project due to start in Stuttgart on 1 July.

For 12 months (from 1 July to 30 June 2011) five hundred volunteers will be riding and recharging 500 e-vehicles on the account of EnBW and a number of research partner companies, including technology company Bosch and the public utility company of the city Karlsruhe.

The energy company EnBW employees 21,000 people and generated a turnover of 15 billion Euro in 2009.

With the e-scooter and e-bike research project, EnBW wants to gather information about the travel and re-charge behaviour of Stuttgart's citizens. With the information EnBW wants to optimize the e-mobility support infrastructure (network of re-charging stations), to bring Stuttgart a step closer to its goal of becoming a „model city for e-mobility“ in Germany.

"Over 3,000 local citizens responded to EnBW's recent call to ride one of the 500 e-bikes and e-scooters for one year without remuneration. The selection process is underway and EnBW will announce the names of the 500 successful applicants soon,“ says EnBW project leader Lars Walch (photo).

EnBW decided to include two e-scooter models (Oxygen Cargoscooter and InnoScooter) and one e-bike (ELMOTO) in its fleet. The Oxygen Cargoscooter is made in Italy, while both the InnoScooter and ELMOTO are homegrown, ie. designed and built in Stuttgart. There are no pedelecs in the fleet, but the re-charging stations will most definitely cater for all types of e-vehicles, including pedelecs, e-autos, e-scooters and e-bikes. (Pictures of e-vehicles in the fleet.)

What will happen to the fleet after 30 June next year? Will EnBW sell the e-vehicles, or continue as fleet operator? „These questions are still open. We haven't decided yet,“ says Walch.

The federal government singled Stuttgart (and the region around it) out last year as one of eight cities and regions in Germany to get financial support for its e-mobility project. In 2010 and 2011 a total of 115 million Euro will be distributed for this purpose, of which the Stuttgart region will get about 15 million Euro. According to Walch, EnBW and its partners will pay for their research from their own pockets.

The 500 volunteer riders will not be paid salaries. But, they will be free to use the e-vehicles how they want and re-charge the batteries at re-charge points specially installed at their homes for free. The e-scooters and e-bikes („rolling laboratories“, as EnBW calls them) will be fitted out with GPS data loggers, to gather information about bike use (eg. when, where, how far) and re-charging behaviour (eg. where, when and how long was re-charged).

The volunteers will submit field reports regularly and write about their experiences and observations on a special „e-mobility portal“, which is being developed by EnBW in cooperation with its partners to be launched on 1 July.

To date EnBW operates 13 re-charging stations in the Stuttgart city center. (Look at video here - in German only.) It is planned to grow the network to 700 stations (including the 500 at the homes of volunteers). So, another 187 will be placed in public places (such as train stations, bus and tram stops, park houses and work yards of businesses) in the next year or two. The re-charging stations are built by Bosch and enhanced with EnBW technology.

„An optimally-developed network of re-charging stations is a pre-requisite for e-mobility success,“ says Walch. With that he means both the physical placement of the stations and what the stations can do. It must, for instance, be easy to re-charge a battery and to pay.

„The stations must be clever enough to add the cost of a charge to a user's monthly electricity bill. For example, if a client of the public utility company in Karlsruhe recharges at an EnBW station in Stuttgart, the cost item must appear on the electricity bill sent him by the Karlsruhe company at the end of the month,“ says Walch.

Maybe the most important motive behind the research: to standardize re-charging stations and procedures throughout the EU. „We hope our research will also contribute towards that important goal,“ concludes Walch.

Copy: Christoffel Volschenk
Date: 6 May 2010



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