When Planners Take Vacation Pictures

On a recent trip to Germany, I took exactly ONE picture, and it wasn’t of the Brandenburg Gate or the picturesque Rhine Valley but – of an electric car charging station.

Mind you, this picture was not taken in any of the major cities but in a mid-sized town of about 250,000 people, in a residential neighborhood. The car is part of a fleet of car share vehicles, just like Zip car, but rather than being tucked away in a garage, sitting in the street like a citi bike. In contrast to American car sharing models, tariffs are not just calculated by time of usage, but a combination of time and distance driven, and the cost is the same for the electric car as for a comparably-sized (i.e. VERY small) gasoline-powered car.

The German Federal Government in 2009 adopted a “National Electromobility Development PlanImagewith the goal of bringing one million electric vehicles to Germany’s roads by 2020; that would be equal to roughly 2.5 percent of all passenger cars (based on number of cars in Germany in 2012). The National Plan focuses on making electric cars a more viable option by funding research for cheaper and more efficient batteries and by helping to provide the necessary infrastructure such as charging stations.

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