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PHOTO CAPTION: Trio of RheinMobil vans that will be used to shuttle staff between German and French facilities.

Moving Employees Electrically to Save Money

Michelin, Siemens and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology are funding a new electric mobility service called RheinMobil to investigate potential costs savings of transporting employees between facilities across French and Germany borders.

Published: 23-Feb-2013

High battery costs still prevent many people from buying an electric vehicle. Is it possible to save money by using an electric vehicle instead of a conventional reference car? This question is studied by the companies of Michelin and Siemens in cooperation with research partners at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI. In January 2013, the consortium was promised funding by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Development (BMVBS) under the Baden-W├╝rttemberg LivingLab BWe mobil showcase project.

"If electric mobility is to be successful in Europe, it has to be economically efficient. We are looking for applications in which electric vehicles are cheaper than a reference car with a combustion engine," says Dr. Olaf Wollersheim, head of the RheinMobil showcase project at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). This is where the companies of Michelin and Siemens come in. Their staff members commute frequently between the German and French facilities. So far, conventional vehicles have been used for these trips. However, an electric vehicle may be cheaper, as every kilometer driven electrically costs less than driving on gasoline or diesel fuel. Wollersheim points out that the reason is the much higher efficiency of the electric drive train. "If the vehicle is used often, costs can be reduced considerably and the high purchasing price is compensated."

In a few weeks from now, first electric vehicles will be used by the staff commuting from Alsace to the Michelin factory in Karlsruhe. At the same time, Siemens staff members will use an electric instead of a gasoline-based vehicle for their trips between the factories in Karlsruhe and Haguenau, France. In both cases, utilization of the vehicles is planned to be increased, such that the electric vehicle will be cheaper than the reference car with a combustion engine at the end of the project. This concept also convinced the federal government. The project scheduled for a duration of three years and having a volume of nearly two million euros will be funded by the BMVBF and the project partners at a ratio of 50 : 50.

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