Conference on electromobility: Berlin without cars – is that even possible?

Conference on electromobility
:Berlin without cars – is that even possible?

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    Elmar Sagittarius

A pictogram of a car on a green background marks a parking lot with charging station for electric vehicles.

A pictogram of a car on a green background marks a parking lot with charging station for electric vehicles.


Jan Woitas / dpa

Berlin –

“We want people to get rid of their cars.” Anyone who says that is simply a “car hater” to many. Who says shortly afterwards, cars with internal combustion engine are technical discontinued models, and speaks of the hope that “these vehicles in the near future in any city drive more, not even in Berlin,” takes the shitstorm approvingly. In this case, both statements came from one and the same person: Environment and Transport Senator Regine Gnther.

At her comes the car stream from the lantern: Ramona Pop (middle) at the fair.

With them comes the car stream from the lantern: Senator Ramona Pop (center), with Benjamin Rabenstein (left) and Frank Pawlitschek (right).


Sabine Gudath

The non-party politician, who is on the ticket of the Greens in office, moves these days on the way to an environmentally friendly, yet mobile metropolis according to the motto “a lot of enemy, a lot of honor”. At the same time, she wanted to show her vision of finding ways into a greener city, said Gnther explaining her strong words.

On Thursday there was an opportunity to reality check: Is a renunciation of private cars, and especially those with internal combustion engine, even possible in a city like Berlin? This question – and even more so – was asked by around 600 experts (and strikingly few experts) from industry, science and politics at the seventh Capital Conference Electromobility in the Red City Hall.

The strong women of the Greens were there: Economics Senator Ramona Pop and Co-faction leader Antje Kapek. Who was missing? Regine Gnther.

Berlin and its diesel engines: The situation is hopeless, but not serious

In fact, the visionary senator is strikingly rare at such events. The fact that they are not interested in how Berlin entrepreneurs and other players in the industry want to make their start in the age of electromobility is certainly excluded. So there has to be a kind of secret division of labor between Gnther and Pop.

Anyway. In the Red Town Hall Regine Gnther could at least have heard what she already knows for sure. That the way to their visions is far. Monstrously far.

Around 1.21 million private cars, almost all equipped with gasoline or diesel engines, are registered in Berlin. In addition, there are trucks, vans, buses, police and ambulances and many more, most of which also have combustion engines. In contrast, there are – or drive – almost 6000 electric cars.

The situation is free after Alfred Polgar hopeless, but not serious. That’s because of a clear tendency. According to Gernot Lobenberg, Head of the Berlin Agency for Electromobility eMO, electric mobility in Germany is growing at 50 to 100 percent per year, depending on the region. He has to say something like that, after all, he is the host of the conference and one of the industry’s key lobbyists in the city.

Gernot Lobenberg pleads for a Berlin city toll

For Lobenberg combustion engines are “a perfect system – but a dinosaur” because of the simple and quick refueling process. Lobenberg calls for the abolition of the diesel tax and more efficient use of public space, which is becoming increasingly scarce in times of growing cities. He is in favor of nationwide parking space management within the S-Bahn ring as well as the introduction of a city toll on the model of other major cities.

Motorists should also have to pay in Berlin if they want to drive into the city center. After all, the motto is: “What costs nothing is worth nothing.” Incidentally, many Berlin projects have long since become “lived reality in the capital region, many of the world’s bestsellers for intelligent mobility come from here,” says Lobenberg.

Ubitricity, Greenpack and Co. are no more than a soft start

Pop and Kapek later went on a tour of the small mass that was built around the conference. They stopped by Ubitricity, a company from the Euref campus in Schneberg, which wants to install charging points for electric cars at 1000 lanterns in Marzahn-Hellersdorf and Steglitz-Zehlendorf. Or at Greenpack from the science city of Adlershof, which is launching a pilot project for replacement battery machines with BP and Total. At petrol stations, professional e-bike or e-scooter drivers should be able to exchange their empty batteries for full ones.

That sounds nice, but it’s nothing more than a delicate beginning. Just like the current figures from a six-million-euro subsidy program of the Senate. This means that 736 electric vehicles have been subsidized since last year, as well as 113 facilities for charging infrastructure. A few drops on a very hot stone.