Services for e-mobility: Interview with start-up fleetster

As part of its research activities, the DELFIN team from the Karlsruhe Service Research Institute (KSRI) at the KIT talked to Tim Ruhoff, founder of German start-up fleetster. Fleetster is an innovative corporate car-sharing solution that places particular emphasis on electric vehicles. Read on for an excerpt from the interview.


Tim Ruhoff, founder of fleetster

Tim Ruhoff, founder of fleetster

Mr. Ruhoff, what do you think services such as fleetster can contribute to e-mobility?

Fleetster is an excellent example of what’s possible. Despite the limited range of today’s electric vehicles, good software can help them meet users’ requirements and ensure that they are hardly – if ever – stranded with an empty battery. To do this, we put vehicles through rigorous testing, start off with considerable buffers and work hard to collect data. The more data we have, the less buffer required. It works, too – you just need to get people into the car, communicate the benefits and allay their fears.


Will the German federal government achieve its target of a million electric vehicles on the roads by 2020?

The question is how you define electric vehicle. I have one definition, but I know that the federal government is soon to issue a completely different one. If we count hybrids, and perhaps even mild hybrids, it might be possible.


What can the state do then to achieve the target based solely on fully electric vehicles?

They should have started making electric cars an attractive option early on, for instance by allowing electric vehicles to use bus lanes or reserving parking spaces for them. The potential benefit is huge if you tell a commuter that he can save 30 minutes each morning by using an electric vehicle. Electric vehicles will catch on only if they offer people the advantage of being able to speed past traffic jams and taxis using the bus lane. Some people are concerned that bus lanes would become clogged, but that hasn’t happened in California or Scandinavia, where they operate a similar system.


What recommendations would you have for the federal government in terms of establishing e-mobility in the long term?

Why do we Germans prefer hybrids over fully electric vehicles when the global trend is exactly the other way around? Basically, we don’t like risk. But at some point that’s going to cost us very, very dear. Why don’t we approach the portfolio of funded projects just like any other investment portfolio? Ten percent risk. Pure risk essentially written off. That ten percent might become 400 percent. Or it might come to nothing. But it’s ten percent that we in this country don’t put in. We don’t have the start-up mentality.


The interview has been adapted from German to English. Please refer to the following link for the original version:


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