‘An alternative must be more fun than your own car’

How could mobility in cities change? Interview with mobility consultant Peter Löck, who will participate in the panel discussion at the DMT Arena in Hanover, Germany.

DMT: What needs to change for people's mobility behavior to change?

Löck: First of all: The car has its place in the mobility of the future. It is not without reason among the most successful products of the last century. It has not only come a long way technically, but also conveys withdrawal, status and freedom. The decisive step in the direction of a traffic turnaround is to move away from individual passenger transport. Nevertheless, mobility is a basic human need and an economic necessity, and prohibitions are of little use here. Better than taking away is the better offer – ask my kids. An alternative has to be more fun than owning your own car. This is what I work on like many others in my startup. It must be easier to click on the app than to grab the car key. It has to be cheaper than the expensive upkeep of owning a car. It has to be faster than standing in traffic jams. It must be more stress-free than looking for a parking space.

"It must be easier to click on the app than to grab the car key"

Thanks to digital transformation, we can provide easy access to different transport offers. The biggest challenge is to link the patchwork of transport associations and get competitors to work together. The bottom line is that I get from door to door better without a car. In addition to developing alternatives, the vision also includes giving people back their space to live and breathe. Examples from Europe's smart cities, such as Helsinki and Amsterdam, show us the way to a livable city.

Which form of drive do you favor for the future – electric, hybrid, fuel cell??

First of all: The "hydrogen car" is also an electric car with an electric motor and a battery. Hydrogen replaces the larger batteries of an all-electric vehicle as an energy carrier. The question of hydrogen or rechargeable batteries cannot be considered in isolation. In the context of the energy transition, the technology that is most conducive to the use of volatile energies from wind and sun should be preferred.

'An alternative must be more fun than your own car'

Mobility consultant Peter Löck, participant in the panel discussion at DMT Arena. Photo: Löck

Hydrogen is a good way to store energy during windy or sunny periods. But the conversion of electricity into hydrogen and hydrogen back into electricity results in such high energy losses that, in the best case, a quarter of the original energy ends up on the road. Hydrogen technology would require building three times more wind turbines. We don't even want to talk about the synfuels in this context. In my view, the fuel cell no longer has a chance on the road.

"The fuel cell no longer stands a chance in road traffic"

Batteries have a much higher efficiency of about 90 percent. In addition, electricity can be transported excellently. The power grid is already there, we can basically charge anywhere and never have to fill up again. In the best case, we charge on occasion, whenever the car is stationary, at work, at home, while shopping. But back to the energy transition. Technically, electric cars can not only absorb energy from the grid, but also release it, thus serving the stability of the grids. In specialist circles, this is referred to as bidirectional charging or V2G (vehicle to grid). This makes "batteries on wheels" the best alternative in perspective. Battery technology is advancing. Energy density and charging times have improved to such an extent that even heavy-duty use is realistic. The hybrid continues to haul the combustion engine around with it. We should have finished oxidizing carbon yesterday if we want to save the planet's climate. Because of this, and because there are now better powertrains, the hybrid is not a viable option.

How will mobility change in the city? And how the city?

We have this in our own hands. I have a cartoon in my head, where roads are depicted as impassable canyons. We have been building roads for cars for too long. Cities around the streets. That it can also be done better is shown by Oslo, where public parking spaces are replaced by flowers and benches. I'm convinced by this Scandinavian pragmatism: "Without a parking space, I won't reach my destination in the city, so I'll drive there another way". The example of Paris, where pedestrians are once again strolling along the Seine and life is flourishing, is also a beautiful one.

What is difficult to implement in suburban areas, such as functioning public transport with many stops and short intervals and sharing models with different vehicles, is taking off in the centers. Imagine how much land will be freed up for green spaces, but also for business miles, if private transport is no longer an obstacle.

Do you think the e-scooters in the city is an asset?

Ha, laughs: I tried out an e-scooter in Klagenfurt, makes fun! But seriously, yes and no. In today's city, micromobility acts as an additional burden because extra driving and parking space is taken up. In open facilities without car traffic, however, one can already see what urban mobility may look like in the future. It's not the e-scooters that are the problem, but the cars that are given most of the road for driving and parking. E-scooters, comparable to car sharing, are not a win until the critical point is passed where fewer owned cars are put on the road.

Will the passenger car retain its status as the "darling of the Germans"??

Of course, a dash eight (Mercedes Benz /8) is of exceptional beauty, but I don't have to drive it to work every day. 47 million cars on German roads are simply too many. The upcoming offerings from Byton and Co. Show the vehicle itself as a mere platform for digital personification. Your smartphone may well be the same model as mine, the apps make all the difference. Cars will become interchangeable, we will share them in everyday life and thus be able to use higher quality models. Status is then the premium subscription.

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