E-mobility for Company Vehicles
In Duisburg there is now an electric car in the fleet, and the icing on the cake is that it runs on power from the company’s steel plant.
© photos: thyssenkrupp Steel
thyssenkrupp Steel is investing in the environmentally friendly mobility of the future with its first electric vehicles and charging column. As a leader in the field of climate and environmental protection, the company is now expanding that expertise to its vehicle fleet. The steel company plans to test new environmentally friendly drives in its vehicles, and electromobility has an important role to play in that development.
Learn all about this plan in our interview with Andreas Theuer, Head of Environmental and Climate Protection at thyssenkrupp Steel.
Mr. Theuer, one of the offices at the Duisburg plant recently received a new addition: a charging column in brand blue with a VW eGolf to match. Can you tell us about that?
The eGolf is our electromobility pilot vehicle. Here at Environmental Protection, we want to take the initiative and gather experience for the company in this exciting new field. That’s why we purchased the electric car. The entire team uses the vehicle for business trips around Duisburg and to go back and forth between our locations. The most interesting part is that the car is powered by sustainable energy from our own plant.
Hence the slogan “power from steel”?
Exactly. The eGolf is charged at the charging column using power produced by the blast furnace gases generated during the production processes in our own power plants. That means our eGolf is not only made of steel, it is powered – albeit indirectly – by steel, too. But of course it can be charged at any standard charging column.
But isn’t thyssenkrupp Steel a little late in purchasing its first electric vehicle?
That’s a point of some contention – after all, when it comes down to it, e-mobility is still in its initial phases. But for us it is far more important to look to the future and, now that we have the car in our pool, use the time to gather real world experience.
What has your e-car taught you so far?
Theuer: Our e-car is a hit in our team, and our team members often use it in lieu of their private vehicles when attending meetings. And since the car is just another part of the team, we have even given him a name: Rolf. That’s short for “recharged Golf,” or just our reliable buddy “Rolf.” In the beginning it was definitely exciting to take this new technology for a spin.
What’s the difference between your car and one with a combustion engine?
The main difference is that ours has a shorter range than an internal combustion vehicle does. Based on our experiences, we estimate the range at around 200 km. That’s enough for a round trip to Dortmund, but you have to hope that you don’t get stuck in traffic.
But didn’t you say that you can charge the car anywhere?
That’s right. We can charge it at a public charging column, but you have to make sure to check the app before you leave to make sure that there is one on the way. The charging process itself takes around 30 minutes – that’s far longer than your average trip to the gas station. Those are things you have to take into account when you’re planning your schedule.
How would you rate the driving experience?
It’s an excellent ride. In the beginning it was strange not to hear the engine when the car started. The acceleration is great and otherwise the car has everything you would need. However, we have definitely noticed that using the heating or air conditioning takes its toll on the vehicle’s range, limiting how far we’re able to drive. We’ll see how that plays out during the summer.
How does thyssenkrupp Steel plan to continue its explorations into electromobility?
Theuer: There are two approaches here – expanding the fleet and expanding the charging infrastructure. Rolf is helping us test whether e-mobility is a practicable solution, and if everything goes well, we’ll successively introduce more e-vehicles into the tkSE fleet for use at the company.
As regards the charging infrastructure, because we use our own power, we can’t allow external vehicles to charge at our stations. But we keep getting requests for charging columns and we want to make that a possibility in the future. The goal is to expand our charging infrastructure in Duisburg and at our other locations to allow any electric vehicle to charge at our stations.
What an exciting prospect. How would that look in practice?
The next step will be to open a public charging column at Gate 3. Both thyssenkrupp Steel employees and third parties will be able to charge their electric cars there. We’ll follow that by installing additional charging columns in close succession in Duisburg and other locations. We are already in the planning phase for Gate 3 and we’re in discussion with a number of possible contractors. If all goes well, the project could kick off this year.