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Tomorrow Today

What does the future look like for electromobility?

Our studio guest Florian Lennert from the Innovation Center for Mobility and Societal Change envisages the roads of the future.

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And here to tell us more about the mobility of the future is an expert from the Innovation Center for Mobility. Florian Lennert welcome to Tomorrow Today.


DW: What do you think, are e-bikes going to revolutionize how we get around?

FL: I do think they will be an attractive alternative for quite a few people in future urban mobility. As the gentleman mentioned, you turn up at a meeting and you're not sweaty from cycling. Or perhaps you're older and you're not quite as fit but it still allows you to cycle in the city.

So what about yourself, do you have an e-bike?

I don't have an e-bike, I prefer to cycle under my own steam. I don't have a car, though I do often use an electric car-sharing vehicle.

So very eco-friendly altogether.
As we just saw, Germans love these bikes. Millions of Chinese are also buying them. But not every country has good infrastructure for bikes. What will happen in the US for example, what will happen there?


I think that's a very good question. In different cities, in different regions, we have different climatic conditions so of course cycling isn't as attractive in some areas as in others. In the US in particular you see a rise in these systems as well and if you look at cities like Boston and San Francisco there's a strong cycling culture there. So I think you'll see that trend continuing in the US.

Now electric cars are finally beginning to come into their own. What is left to be done in terms of technology and infrastructure to really push them to the fore?

Well we still need to work a little bit on bringing the price down. Electric cars are still relatively expensive compared to normal cars. That's because the batteries are expensive. In addition we have to work a little bit more on the range of the vehicles, by that I mean to make them lighter, smaller, which would allow cars in urban transport to achieve higher ranges.

How eco-friendly are these cars really? I mean when you think of the energy needed to charge these batteries?

It is absolutely clear they will only make a contribution to fighting climate change if we can power entirely them from renewable energy. So once we move to 100% renewable energy systems, then electric mobility can make a lot of sense as they can also provide storage capacity to volatile energy sources such as wind and sun.

Your area of research is future scenarios for intelligent transport in major cities. What would the optimal transport mix be?

I think we have to look at whether we will continue to have private automobility in the city. If you look at many major urban centers around the world we have huge congestion issues, and we need to think about different mobility systems that allow people to use individual forms of mobility, but use them on demand, not actually by owning a vehicle that stands around 90% of the time unused creating space problems.

It isn't about just getting around in the city of course... What about long-distance travel?

We will probably have to look at different options for long-distance travel. In the urban centers electric mobility can work, because you rarely travel 100, more than 150 kilometers a day. And these ranges are now possible with electric cars. For longer range, we will have to move perhaps to fuel cell technology that can work with hydrogen for instance, which we can generate from wind or solar power, so there will be a plurality of engine types or technologies that we can deploy for long-distance travel.

Finally, Florian, how do you think we will be getting around in a hundred years time do you reckon?

Well, recently two companies have brought a flying car out to the market, one that turns into a helicopter, the other one turns into a light plane. So we do think at some point we will have that type of aerial mobility, private personal aerial mobility.

Absolutely brilliant, Florian Lennart thanks for joining us on Tomorrow Today.