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Smiles board member Karl Nestmeier: E-mobility is about to make a breakthrough

Achim Hartmann
Smiles board member Karl Nestmeier
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With your electrically operated Cityel you are the market leader among the electric car providers in Germany. Are you now afraid of competition from the major car manufacturers?
N estmeier
: Competition stimulates business. That doesn't scare us at all, because if the car manufacturers now also use the word electric car, then this form of locomotion will finally be perceived as a normal act of mobility. And that's how many customers end up with us.

In your opinion, what is the problem with the further development of e-mobility?
: People always pretend that E -Cars weren't ready yet. Nobody expects the performance of a Passat V6. Our approach is not to equip every sales representative with e-cars, but rather courier drivers or commuters who get by with ranges of 80 to 120 kilometers per day. Then e-cars also make economic sense. Larger battery pads are required for greater ranges, which significantly increases the acquisition costs. Then an e-car is quickly outnumbered by a car with a combustion engine in terms of operating and maintenance costs.

How expensive is it to drive an e-car from Smiles AG?
: The costs per kilometer with a four-year holding period and a mileage of 10,000 kilometers per year are 15 cents for the Cityel and 31 cents for the Tazzari. For a comparable Smart Fortwo with a conventional drive, the costs are 34 cents, for the VW Polo 1.2 it is 38 cents.

Why have you been offering e-cars for years and why are you even the market leader in Germany? while the auto industry is still working on development?
: The auto industry has a higher demand for perfection, but that does not mean that it is better. VW would never bring a car like the Tazzari Zero. Your model would have to be bigger, faster and meet different ideas about the interior design. We occupy the concept of downsizing mobility with speeds of 65 to 100 km /h and ranges of up to 150 kilometers. After all, 80 percent of car journeys a day are less than 50 kilometers. In addition, we consciously cut back on the equipment in favor of better efficiency and a lower price.

TheThe CO 2 balance of some electric cars is by no means better than that of models with a combustion engine. What about your models?
: The most economical electric vehicles with only four to five kWh power consumption per 100 kilometers cause around 25 grams of CO2 per kilometer. In terms of energy, this corresponds to around 0.4 liters of petrol. This results in electricity costs of around one euro per 100 kilometers.

Where do your customers come from?
: In the beginning it was 50 percent eco -Academic and 50 percent tradespeople. They now make up 20 percent each, the rest are normal families, commuters and private customers, for whom economy plays a major role.

How long does the lithium-ion battery last for you? ?
: High-quality batteries can easily manage 5,000 charging cycles, which would mean a service life of 400,000 kilometers at 80 kilometers per day. Batteries get worse after a certain age, ten years is realistic. The exchange for a Cityel costs around 1,300 to 2,000 euros.

This car is basically a three-wheeled cabin scooter. How safe is the car?
: In contrast to many other lithium-ion batteries, our battery is even approved for air freight. It is located in a crash-protected installation space. And we've never had an accident-related battery failure. In the event of a collision, the sandwich construction of the Cityel compresses, and the pilots basically sit in an upside-down vehicle helmet that protects them. But one thing is also clear: There is no absolute safety either for electric cars or for vehicles with combustion engines.

Are you actually advocating electromobility in principle, or do you also give cars with combustion engines a chance?
: A car with a combustion engine is better for long journeys, you have to be very clear. Nevertheless, I consider a market share for e-cars of three to five percent in 2020 to be realistic. It is certainly not due to the technology, but rather to the acceptance by the customer.

Sometimes it is still difficult to find a suitable socket for his electric car. How should that work from your point of view?
: This entire topic is cooked ten times hotter than it will be eaten afterwards. Most users will charge privately or on company premises. And on the discussion about different connectors: I can connect all connector systems using an adapter.

You have been dealing with electromobility for 20 years. What is your conclusion?
: We will achieve a balanced result in 2010 if everything goes well. So far this year we have sold 600 vehicles, in 2009it is around 250. Sales increase by a factor of three to four because we have new models such as the Tazzari Zero in our range, of which we have so far sold 80 units. In 2011, we plan to make money - but it took ten years to get to this point.

Karl Nestmeier - a pioneer of electric car mobility

Karl Nestmeier is one of the pioneers of electric car mobility in Germany and has been trying to establish alternative drive concepts for 20 years. As a board member of Smiles AG, based in Aub near W├╝rzburg, he is the market leader for electric cars in Germany, employs 22 people and has a share capital of 5.74 million euros.

The three-wheeled Cityel is manufactured at the company's headquarters, which for 9,999 euros offers a range of up to 120 kilometers and is primarily intended for commuters or messenger services. The single-seater has been sold around 6,000 times. In addition, Nestmeier sells the two-seater REVAi and, since February, the Tazzari Zero. The 550 kilogram small car from Italy offers space for two people, 180 liters of storage space and a range of up to 140 kilometers for 23,990 euros. The rear-wheel drive is powered by a 15 kW electric motor in front of the rear axle.


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