Ravensburg-Weingarten University of Applied Sciences (RWU) hosted the "Electromobility and Sustainability Day". In front of 150 guests, the mobility of the future was examined from various perspectives. Finally, "an icon of German mechanical engineering" was presented with a "new heart": a VW Beetle was converted into an electric vehicle by students of RWU in cooperation with Technische Werke Schussental.
Hardly any other topic of the digital change of times moves people as much as the associated changes in the field of mobility. Just think of the discussions about driving bans, autonomous public transport systems or the concern about the many jobs that depend on the automotive industry.
It is therefore only logical that a university as a place of thought and research invites people to the "Day of Electromobility and Sustainability". The afternoon was opened by Angelika Zimmermann on behalf of the University Council. Professor Ekkehard Löhmann, Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, then emphasised the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation. "This is why the abbreviation of our new Institute for Electromobility (IEM) also stands for interdisciplinary and the cooperation of electrical and mechanical engineering".
The focus must always be on the entire production chain.
The first speaker, Dr. Jörg Wind from Daimler AG described the advantages and disadvantages of battery and fuel cell drives. With the fuel cell, which converts the stored chemical energy in the form of hydrogen into electrical energy, the advantage lies above all in its long range. One problem, however, is the still weak network of filling stations. On the other hand, the battery is unbeatable in terms of the efficiency of the overall drive and "offers many advantages for people with a solar system on the roof, for example," says Jörg Wind.
Questions from the audience made it clear that in order to assess the environmental friendliness of a technology, the focus must always be on the emissions of the entire production chain. And not only for the vehicle itself, but also for the energy sources used. According to a study based on real vehicle data from Daimler AG, battery electric and fuel cell vehicles are now on the same level of the "carbon footprint".
Raphael Himmelsbach and Dr. Jochen Abhau from ZF AG reported on electric mobility from the point of view of industrial technology and on the latest status of autonomous vehicles. Raphael Himmelsbach made it clear that the fields of application in industrial technology are a broad one, as his lecture ranged in just a few minutes from the huge wind power plant to hybrid wheel loaders to the electric motor in the concrete mixer, which makes it possible to switch off the vehicle's combustion engine when the mixer is at a standstill on a construction site.
Founder scene can succeed with unconventional ideas
In addition to the contributions of the large companies, Markus Bergmann's presentation also stood for a young start-up scene that can succeed in such a phase of upheaval with unconventional ideas. His company Carla Cargo builds electrically driven and intelligent load bicycle trailers. The fact that they have hit a nerve is shown by the order from Amazon alone, which has ordered a three-figure number of trailers for its delivery service in New York. "In traffic chaos, they are faster with their bikes," says Markus Bergmann, "and the awareness of reducing emissions is also well received by customers."
Professor Dr. Wolfgang Ertel completed the list of speakers and focused on the potential of electrically powered and autonomous taxis. There would be no need for garages or parking spaces, Ertel said, and significantly fewer cars would be needed, and the requirements would be determined by use and no longer by suitability as a status symbol. "Cars will be vehicles and no longer standing vehicles," says the director of the Institute of Artificial Intelligence of RWU. "Trust us computer scientists. After a few weeks, the provider will know how many people want to drive from where to where and when".
In front of the building, there were student initiatives working on mobility issues in a broader sense. One of these projects still had its big appearance on Electromobility Day: The two RWU students Patrick Hantsche and Jacob Schicketanz, together with Elias Glatzel, a trainee at Technische Werke Schussental (TWS), unveiled the VW Beetle, which they had converted into an electric car in recent months. Supported by TWS, the car paint shop Yardimci and Martin Irmler from an engineering office in Weingarten, the three have made an "icon of German mechanical engineering afloat for the 21st century", says Professor Dr. Robert Bjekovic. The red and white beetle will be seen on the roads of the region as part of the tws fleet.
As a conclusion of the first day of electromobility at RWU, organizer Professor Dr. Benedikt Reick sees "that the upcoming technological changes in the field of overall mobility offer many opportunities and development potential. The pedelecs already widely used today are a good example of this. They combine electric mobility with the topic of sustainability, offer driving pleasure and ultimately create new jobs - also in Baden-Württemberg".