Monday, August 8

Green mobility, under debate: “It is not about changing traffic jams with combustion cars for others with electric cars”

“Mobility is inherent to the human being. Covering mobility needs in the times we live in, in the short and medium term, is unsustainable and brings many uncertainties”. With this phrase by Isabel Olmo, the debate organized this Wednesday in sponsored by Acciona and moderated by the opinion director of elDiario.esGumersindo Lafuente, in which María Eugenia López, deputy director of the Transport Center of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Carlos Ferreras, commercial director of Silence and Isabel Olmo, head of the sustainable mobility and city department of the IDAE (Institute for Diversification and Energy Saving) have tackled the challenge of electric mobility.

Recent world events have brought to the table a supply problem that requires a transition for both passenger and freight transport. Changing these mobility habits will mean greater efficiency and introduce alternative technologies that allow greater sustainability and ensure the commitment to decarbonisation. The electric vehicle, today, is a technology that can best guarantee this plan.

When we talk about electric vehicles, we usually simplify in cars, but the diversity of electric mobility is very wide. “We can talk about public transport, the distribution of goods or the shared car, not just the personal vehicle. It is shared and connected electric mobility” —explains María Eugenia López— “Another thing is to talk about cost and deadlines, we want to do a lot in a very short time”

Recharging points: buyer’s fear

In Spain there are currently 245 charging points for vehicles for every million inhabitants. That is, there are 12,702 points in total, when the goal by the end of 2022 was to reach about 45,000. In the longer term, the expectation is to reach 340,000 by the end of 2030. “The first thing the citizen wants to know is how they are going to recharge the vehicle” – Isabel Olmo and Carlos Ferreras agree – “you have to know where you are going to recharge in slow charging, where you can recharge at an opportunity in the urban environment, and where you can recharge on the road”.

By 2023, all car parks in the tertiary sector that have more than 20 spaces will have to have a recharging access point for every 40 spaces. In the shopping center sector alone, this will mean 17,000 new charging points that will benefit urban mobility. On the part of ultra-fast charging for road travel, service stations play an important role in conveying confidence to the driver for their sense of autonomy. In 2023, there will be 200 recharging points of 150 kilowatts, and 800 of 50 kilowatts according to the Climate Change and Energy Transition Law.

The electric vehicle as a source of savings

The electric vehicle represents a substantial saving for the pockets of families and also for the public coffers that use this type of mobility in their fleets. The linked recharge (the basic one of the vehicle) is calculated at approximately 1.5 euros every 100 kilometers, compared to 8 or 9 euros for a combustion vehicle.

Spain is still far from the objective set by the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) that aspired to reach a park of 5 million electrified vehicles in 2030. This same plan foresees that in 2025 a price parity between electric vehicles will be established and combustion, which will favor the takeoff of the commitment to the transformation of private and collective fleets. However, the rise in the prices of combustion vehicles is accelerating this process.

The Silence model assumes that “vehicles are designed to be always connected”, says Carlos Ferreras. “We know that the price was a barrier to entry, and we propose, for example, having the vehicle also owned but without the battery. The user pays a monthly subscription with a series of cycles, and would pay for each additional 100 kilometers”.

Urban mobility: a challenge to face

It is not about changing the traffic jams of combustion vehicles for others with electric vehicles. The challenge of improving urban mobility is much greater. “Electrification is a plus”, says María Eugenia López, “but the new businesses are more linked to payment for use than payment for ownership, which satisfies these mobility needs”.

Shared mobility and digitization allow vehicles to be connected to the city and its infrastructures, which gives much more efficiency. The advantages provided by electric vehicles can also be used in public transport, “most of the trajectories of our vehicles pass through urban centers and very specific streets. With this, public transport routes can be reordered to make them more efficient”, comments Carlos Ferreras.

Concentrating public mobility needs based on the habits of the citizens of the large urban centers is a necessity, and for this it is necessary to transfer the movements of passengers and goods to more efficient means, financing public transport and making it more accessible for the citizenship, promoting the rational use of means of transport, with modalities such as carsharing (flexible car rental) or carpooling (sharing vehicles on trips), eliminating congestion in cities.

The emptied Spain and electric mobility

“From the IDAE, we have agreed on an aid program that increases when the municipality has less than 5,000 inhabitants, with an additional 10% for vehicle aid,” says Isabel Olmo. Proposals for shared taxis are presented for medical services, schools and other procedures, and that solutions can be presented from public institutions to save the mobility of its inhabitants.

The aid goes through promoting the electric vehicle, seeking decarbonization and connection. “With the new bus concession model, there are also free places to be used by this type of user efficiently, with much more flexibility,” says María Eugenia López.

In the areas furthest from urban centers, the autonomous vehicle —one of the proposals for efficient mobility that would be suitable for an empty Spain— encounters a problem: “The technology is invented, the problem is the infrastructure. The vehicle has to read the signs, the roads have to be clean and that has a maintenance cost, it also needs the use of 5G. It’s not that easy,” adds López.

Economic Recovery and Transformation

The PERTE (Strategic Projects for Economic Recovery and Transformation) are a new instrument of public-private collaboration in which the different public administrations, companies and research centers collaborate, which is accelerating the recharging infrastructure deployment plan, and from Ministry of Industry is promoting the national industry to make a commitment to economic development linked to electric mobility.

“The funds that are being given in the different programs have this objective. The PERTE is more linked to consolidating the industry, and in the case of the electric vehicle, Spain is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and cannot lose that position or the wealth that it entails,” says Isabel Olmo. In this sense, Carlos Ferreras wanted to highlight that these funds have allowed his company, Acciona, “to be able to acquire a factory 10 times larger than the one we had to follow this path of manufacturing 100,000 vehicles, generate quality employment and be part of the Spanish industry.

Del Olmo stressed that “we must ensure that they continue to assign us electric models to Spanish plants and for this the funds contribute a lot so that these industrial projects are created and also, on the other hand, create those conditions that facilitate electric mobility to advance ”. All of this, he has pointed out, will offer Spain possibilities “in industrial terms, of job creation and economic growth”.

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