Electric cars are advertised as having lower operating costs, including electricity prices in particular. However, the latter recently climbed to a new record high in Germany. A kilowatt hour of electricity currently costs an average of 30.4 cents for private households – more than ever, the comparison portal Verivox found in August. The price of electricity has increased since the turn of the millennium more than doubled. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess believes that there will be a trend reversal.
“Electricity is not getting more and more expensive, electricity will be cheaper in the longer term,” said Diess WirtschaftsWoche. Even today, wind power or solar power from Germany would cost around five cents per kilowatt hour to generate. “With that I would drive a hundred kilometers in an electric car for about one euro if I only look at the generation and exclude the EEG surcharge and distribution costs,” explained the Volkswagen boss.
Diess is aligning Europe’s largest car manufacturer with electromobility. He advertises in particular with the environmental friendliness of e-cars, but also with the more attractive maintenance costs compared to combustion engines. Battery models currently still cost significantly more to buy than conventionally powered vehicles, so savings in maintenance and by “filling up” with electricity are an important selling point.
A central factor for the further development of electricity prices is the expansion of renewable energies in Germany and Europe. Switching to electric cars is only really environmentally friendly if they are produced and charged with “green” electricity. But other industries also need more and more energy, which must be increasingly sustainable in view of the climate goals. Currently, the increasing demand for (green) electricity is meeting an insufficiently growing supply. Germany will phase out nuclear power next year, and coal-fired power plants are to be shut down by 2038 at the latest. But bureaucracy and protests are blocking the expansion of renewables. The energy industry is therefore facing major challenges.
In order to be able to make the customer an attractive offer, Volkswagen sells through its subsidiary Elli even green electricity. Tesla is also pushing into the electricity market; the US electric car manufacturer has long been offering comparatively cheap charging power for on the go via its own “Supercharger” charging network. Meanwhile, Tesla also has it in Germany a green electricity tariff for at home in the program. If the electricity prices do not become cheaper in the long term, as predicted by Diess, other manufacturers could offer their electric cars with particularly low electricity tariffs.
The industry is already working on optimizing the overall package of electric cars, power supplies at home and mobile charging current with its own offers. E-cars are perfect power storage, said Diess of WirtschaftsWoche. They could often be charged when electricity is cheap, such as at night, and deliver electricity when it is expensive. Volkswagen wants the technology for the latter from 2022 expand. In the future, e-cars should not only stabilize the power grid, but also earn money for the owner – and thus make e-car driving cheaper for them.