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E-company mobility and electricity shortage, isn’t that controversial?


Right now, we’re being inundated with tips on how to save electricity in a sensible way. So we’re instructing employees to stop leaving their screens on standby and to turn off the lights in the evening, and we’re turning down the heating in the office. And with all these efforts, a simultaneous switch to e-mobility, which would supposedly cancel out the savings, seems like complete nonsense – right? Well, not really, because vehicles with combustion engines also require quite a bit of electricity. Not directly for propulsion, but indirectly. And not in short supply. What is meant here is the so-called “gray electricity. This is the term used to describe the energy required for the production and operation of equipment and machines.

Where exactly is a burner motor supposed to consume electricity?

First, let’s take a look at fuel: both gasoline and diesel are derived from petroleum. The processes used for this are extremely complex and require an enormous amount of electricity. One of the process steps, for example, involves heating the base material to up to 400 degrees. In addition to the gray electricity consumed here, there is another problem: heating releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, which contributes to the climate crisis, among other things. And gasoline and diesel are not the only fuels that internal combustion engines require. The same applies to lubricants or AdBlue. In figures: 1 ton of AdBlue requires 85-160 kWh during productionA. In addition, there is further electricity consumption during transport, the production of packaging materials and during the sale itself.

Refueling without electricity: an impossibility

And this brings us to another “gray electricity” component: the gas stations. Each gas station consumes around 200,000 kw per year. Not only the gas stations and stores, but also the refueling itself. Pumping the fuels through the pumps is a lot more energy-intensive than one might imagine. So a fleet of combustion vehicles does not run directly on electricity, but it does add quite a bit of “gray electricity” to the company’s energy balance. And another important point: an internal combustion engine does not convert all available energy sensibly into motion, but a large part also into waste heat. In fact, only 20-40% is converted into motion. In contrast, 90% is used for motion in the e-motor, which makes e-cars many times more energy efficient.

Refueling gasoline or diesel also requires a considerable amount of electricity.

In conclusion, it can be said that refusing to switch to e-mobility because there is a shortage of electricity is not a legitimate justification. The situation is actually much more complex and involves a number of factors. Opting for an e-fleet still needs to be carefully thought out and well considered, and – depending on driver profiles and corporate strategy – does not make the same amount of sense for every company. However, the argument of electricity scarcity will hopefully no longer be part of the decision-making process in the future.