In an interview with automotive magazine arrive, NOW Managing Director Dr. Klaus Bonhoff explains the federal funding strategies for the area of electric mobility and describes which opportunities for support are open to municipalities and companies.
Dr. Bonhoff, what exactly is it that you provide support for?
NOW is a programme management organisation whose task it is to implement support programmes of the Federal Government, in particular those of the Federal Ministry of Transport, in the area of sustainable mobility and energy. We ensure that the funds are used for the right technical issues from a technological point of view and connect important players in research and the market in order to pave the way for market preparation and the introduction of products and services.
That sounds promising. But does this only concern large projects or are smaller projects also a area of focus?
It involves large and long-term programmes, but these may consist of many small projects. Ultimately, the public sector sets the programmatic framework with budgetary resources that can be expended. It is then our task to break it down to individual projects. In a sense, we are at the threshold between research and development and the commercial market. Support recipients on the development side can be smaller companies, corporations or research institutions. On the other hand, we have funding support available for procurement to specifically assist in the purchase of vehicles or the installation of charging infrastructure or hydrogen refuelling stations. Business owners can submit applications in a municipal context for this purpose, the same as the municipalities themselves wishing to procure four or five electric passenger vehicles or electric buses for public transport purposes.
How does the funding process work? What does a small business, e.g. a tradesperson, have to do in order to benefit from these sought-after funding opportunities?
There are two different procedures. In the area of research and development, the applicant submits a project outline to us. If the idea is eligible, i.e. compatible with the objectives of the respective programme, the next step is to prepare the funding application. In the case of procurement, it is a simpler procedure. In such instances the applicant must complete a form, which is then checked by the project administrator. The step of evaluating the project outline is omitted here. To find out when and on which topic funding applications can be submitted, I can recommend the NOW funding call email service. Those interested can subscribe to the mailing list on our website (www.now-gmbh.de/en/service/newsletter).
NOW is also internationally active. Are there projects that are specifically supported in this context?
The main focus is on the exchange of information in international committees and within the framework of several bilateral cooperation agreements that we have concluded in recent years with organisations that perform tasks similar to NOW in their countries. Currently, however, we have just signed an agreement with CATARC, the Chinese Automotive Technology and Research Center. It provides for partners from both countries to jointly implement concrete projects within their national funding structures.
How and where does NOW intervene in the expansion of the charging infrastructure in Germany?
In order to actually determine demand, we are currently developing a location tool, which will show us, among other things, where charging infrastructure exists, where it is being built, what charging capacity exists on site or what the utilisation of the capacity is. This information is important in order to be able to efficiently control the further demand-oriented construction of charging stations or also the densification of the infrastructure at certain locations. However, expanding the electricity grid in order to boost its performance is not our focus. Other support programmes exist for this field, which are the domain of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs.
For all those not yet fully familiar with the topic but still wishing to enter the field of electric mobility – be it battery or fuel cell-based – with their municipality or business, I recommend taking a look at our www.starterset- elektromobilitaet.de website. There we have compiled all manner of information for municipalities, fleet operators and business owners and also provide details on the many experiences that have been gained from the individual projects. The electric mobility starter set is an entry portal for specialist knowledge, which at the end of the day will help those responsible make an informed decision regarding the purchase of electric vehicles.
Would you advise private persons wanting to sell or scrap their petrol or diesel car to buy an electric car?
Good reasons already exist for commercial customers to switch to electric vehicles. The ranges are also usually fully sufficient for most company requirements. For private users it simply depends on the specific individual mobility needs. If you can charge at home or at work, there’s nothing speaking against electric mobility today anymore. nothing wrong with electromobility today.
Dr. Bonhoff, thank you for the interview.
The interview was conducted by Dr. Martin Steffan.