"North American companies in the electric mobility industry are very interested in the European market because the capabilities of the vehicles at present are better matched to the shorter travel distances in Europe," remarks David Scrimgeour of DS Consulting. "The Ruhr valley in North Rhine Westphalia offers ideal conditions to these enterprises." (www.nrw-invest.de/).
North Rhine Westphalia is one of the eight model regions where German road transport is to be "electrified" in this plan. By mid-September 2009, NRW will present its "Master Plan for Electric Mobility." In addition to offering financial incentives for the development of an infrastructure of charging stations and technology pilot projects, the NRW master plan will detail the formation of a closely-meshed network of international electric mobility businesses.
North Rhine Westphalia: Best preconditions for "electrifying" innovation in the center of Europe
The Ruhr valley, a region in the German federal state of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), boasts one of the most important concentrations of industry worldwide. In addition to being one of the leading regions in Germany for energy generation, it is also one of the most important for automobile manufacturing. Approximately 700,000 cars and commercial vehicles are produced in NRW for the world’s markets every year.
5.2 million people live in the Ruhr valley, within an area of roughly 30 x 50 kilometers (1,500 square kilometres). By comparison, roughly 693,000 people live within an area of 1,371 square kilometres in Hamilton, Ontario (Statistics Canada, 2006). The large concentration of people within a small area is one of the best preconditions for the introduction of electric vehicles, whose range averages currently between 80 and 100 kilometers between charges.
Large transnational corporations such as Daimler, RWE and Evonik – all with operations in the state – have recently succeeded in making significant breakthroughs in the development of new battery technologies.
City of Bochum is an example of the shift to electric automobiles
The city of Bochum and the surrounding area is a leading location for the automobile industry in the Ruhr valley, particularly due to the Opel manufacturing operation there. The medium- and long-term prospects are excellent because of the well-developed supply chain, advanced local research facilities and the availability of a highly skilled workforce. There is also a possibility that the new electric Opel, the "Ampera" – equivalent to the American "Volt" model – could be manufactured in Bochum. Magna, the potential investor in Opel, already has links to Canadian businesses in the electric mobility industry.
To support the development of its electric mobility efforts, the city of Bochum recently launched the ruhrmobil-E initiative, which aims to make the Bochum region the technological front-runner in electric vehicles and charging technologies.
As part of the ruhrmobil-E initiative, the Bochum electricity utility launched the first five "intelligent charge points" for electric cars in close cooperation with Bochum universities and many network partners from the ruhrmobil-E initiative. The launch took place during the "Bochum goes e-mobile" week, which was held in early September. The network-operated charging stations were developed by California-based Coulomb Technologies together with European partner 365 Energy Group.
Due to its central location, the city of Bochum benefits from the enormous market offered by the state of North Rhine Westphalia. Since last year, with the program of activities "Growth for Bochum" additional impetus has been given to grow the region. The Growth for Bochum program was initiated by the NRW state government together with the Finnish company Nokia following the decision by the company to close its mobile phone manufacturing facility in Bochum.
About North Rhine Westphalia
With an export volume of Euro 174 billion, the State of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) is ranked 18th worldwide and is thereby considered equivalent to Spain and Saudi Arabia.
NRW is the location of choice for investment in Germany. According to the German Central Bank, almost a quarter of all foreign companies in the country are located in NRW. The investment conditions in Germany – and thus in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia – have considerably improved since the implementation of the fiscal reforms of 2000 (effective since January 1, 2001). For joint-stock companies as well as general partnerships, Germany is no longer a highly taxed nation.
North Rhine Westphalia is positioned at the heart of Europe and borders directly on both the Netherlands and Belgium. It is also the most highly and densely populated of the 16 Federal states of Germany. 18 million people live within an area of 34,086 square kilometres here (529 persons/square kilometre) – almost as many as in the State of New York, and more than the national populations of the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary or Sweden.
About the Bochum area
More than 15,000 companies already appreciate the advantages of Bochum’s location at the heart of the Ruhr valley. The benefits of the city’s position are further reflected by the high export ratio of the businesses operating here, at over 50 percent. With around 40,000 students, the Ruhr University of Bochum together with four further universities of applied sciences promise investors and steady supply of qualified graduate employees and well-trained managerial staff.