e.GO Mobile proves that emission-free driving is possible with today’s technology at low cost and with a customer focus
e.GO Mobile AG develops and manufactures affordable electric vehicles in Aachen, Germany. The company was founded in 2015 with the development of the e.GO Life. Since 2016, the electric-vehicle manufacturer has also been developing the e.GO Mover minibus. e.GO has access to more than 3,000 researchers and developers on the RWTH Aachen Campus, a science and industry research network. Professor Günther Schuh, founder and CEO of e.GO Mobile AG, wants to use the two vehicle platforms to prove that emission-free driving is already possible with today’s technology at low cost and with a customer focus thanks to Industry 4.0. Read this interview for more insights into current developments in the e-mobility market, the pleasure of driving, and air taxis.
The shift to e-mobility is slower in your home market of Germany than elsewhere. When can we expect the next big leap?
At e.GO Mobile AG, we are convin-ced that enthusiasm for electric mobility is already there. We are simply lacking a sufficient supply of affordable electric cars. We expect demand in Germany for new city vehicles to reach around 400,000 units per year over the next ten years. However, our first plant has a production capacity of only 30,000 vehicles, so we are ex-
cited to see vehicles from other OEMs enter the market. With the e.GO Life, we wanted to demonstrate that you can offer an affordable electric car with existing technologies. In addition to automobile manufacturers, cities and local authorities have a particularly strong interest in ensuring that we drive emission-free in inner-city areas as soon as possible. Everyone is working towards this goal and the authorities are also doing their utmost to support it. If the range of vehicles develops further in the coming years, electromobility will also achieve its breakthrough in Germany.
With the e.GO Life, you are focusing on a small car with a rather short range. Will electric cars be predominantly used for traveling short distances?
There is no indication that the development of solid-state batteries will advance sufficiently in the coming years to significantly lower their price. From both an economic and an ecological point of view, an electric vehicle with a comparatively large battery for higher ranges is therefore not sensible. This means that an e-vehicle with a similar range as a combustion vehicle will still be too expensive. We expect electric cars to be used for short distances in the coming years, while hybrid vehicles will be the most sensible solution for longer drives.
From battery electric to hybrid to fuel cells, different drive concepts are being discussed. What is your advice for the automotive industry when it comes to the drive systems of the future?
In order to implement emission-free driving in the long term, we need more solutions than just battery electric vehicles. This is why we must embrace new technologies. Battery electric drives, plug-in hybrid vehicles, fuel cell electric drives as well as conventional combustion engines with e-fuels can all be part of the solution. For longer distances or commercial vehicles, the combination of a comparatively small battery supplemented by a range extender in the form of a fuel cell is a good solution. However, infrastructure advancements are just as important as advanced vehicle development. This includes improving the charging infrastructure and the hydrogen economy in Germany and Europe.
Is rational and efficient driving your top priority? Or should driving be fun, too? After all, you are the first industry partner with permission to use the new Modular Electrification Toolkit (MEB) by Volkswagen for a vehicle with an electric drive.
In our opinion, driving has to be fun. We cannot only think along the lines of reason. Our e.GO Life is an electric car that is not only practical and affordable, it is also fun to drive. Electromobility in general is fun, because an electric motor has a higher torque in relation to power, which lets it accelerate much faster than a combustion engine. The e.GO Life not only has very good acceleration, its rear-wheel drive also gives it a very sporty driving style.
Yes, we are allowed to use the VW electrification toolkit, but currently we cannot give you any more information on this.
As a hobby pilot, you are already flying mile-high in a sports aircraft. Now you are working on the air taxi. When will it take off?
We are planning to put the Silent Air Taxi into operation in 2024. The first flight is scheduled for 2022. The Silent Air Taxi is an hybrid electric aircraft with an efficient combination of electric motors and combustion engines. For the time being, it is not possible to achieve the required power purely by battery electricity. In addition to reducing pollutant emissions, e.SAT GmbH focuses primarily on minimizing aircraft noise. Using airspace can decongest rail and road transport, currently the main modes of transport. Due to increased demands on travel times, punctuality, and flexibility, the Silent Air Taxi can be a sensible part of the individual mobility chain. Using urban airfields means that there will be no waiting time before the flight or at baggage claim.