Silicon Allee: Germany’s Tech Hub for Electric Cars, Scooters, and Bikes

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BERLIN–Where the US is moving methodically toward offering more electric vehicles, Germany is racing ahead on e-mobility: electrified cars, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, buses, and the infrastructure to make charging as close as the nearest lamp post. It makes sense to look beyond electric cars-only in densely populated Europe with narrow streets and limited parking. Unlike North America, with currently abundant fossil fuels, Europe depends on outsiders for much of its energy.

Here are some intriguing mobility products and technologies I saw, primarily in Berlin (main photo) near the Euref Campus that houses dozens of startups, car tech and other, as well as industry giants like Cisco, Deutsche Bahn (German railways), General Electric, and Schneider Electric. They all thrive on the proximity to energetic workers, ping pong and foosball tables, and the goal of more sustainable products. It’s why Berlin is called Silicon Allee: Germany’s answer to Silicon Valley.

Meanwhile, in Stuttgart 400 miles to the southwest, the 30th annual Electric Vehicle Symposium drew 15,000 attendees last week. Exhibitors ranged from software and hardware suppliers–based on the show, there’ll be no shortage of charging station options for home, street, or public places–to new vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz EQA concept.

Mercedes-Benz used EVS30 as the occasion to outline its future strategy. New electric vehicles will ride under the EQ sub-brand. It showed the compact Mercedes-Benz EQA (photo inset) and Smart Vision EQ fortwo concepts.

Mercedes maintains plug-in hybrids represent the best short-term and medium-term solutions, as do other German automakers. Every large Mercedes, meaning the C-Class (which Americans call a compact car) and above, will get PHEV versions. Most recently, that was the S 560 e.

From the Germany 2017 GAIT tech tour, brought to you by yours truly.

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