In dialogue with the founder and CEO of e.GO Mobile AG
His e-transporter for the German postal service has become a big success. Now Günther Schuh is setting about advancing electromobility even more with the e.GO Life subcompact car.
Electro is only a supplement
Günther Schuh is an electromobility pioneer. Ask him when one hundred percent battery driven cars will finally establish themselves and he will give a surprising answer. “Not in the near future and not in the next ten or fifteen years. And perhaps not even beyond that.” The professor for production engineering at RWTH Aachen University sees electric drive in the medium term only as a supplement to the traditional combustion engines — as the costs for batteries capable of long ranges are too high.
“The e.GO has been concepted as a city runaround. It’s why its one-hundred-kilometer range and low speeds are sufficient.”
This however does not apply to short distances. And it is exactly why Schuh is developing a city car at the e.GO Mobile company he himself founded. Its 14.9 kWh battery capacity is, according to Schuh, sufficient to cover a little more than one hundred kilometers in the city.
The e.GO Life is all of 3.35 meters long, weighs less than a ton and accelerates quickly to only 50 kilometers per hour, then things settle down. It is not immediately obvious that this car is about to revolutionize city traffic — even when Schuh says with a smile, “Some people even say it is very fancy looking”.
Small car — big goals
The thing that makes the e.GO Life, which has been on the market since 2018, so special is the basic price of 15,900 euro plus its precisely defined areas of application. “It’s an aluminum profile spaceframe that can be produced with only a few tools,” explains Schuh. It is how manufacturing costs are kept down to a relatively low 900 euro per frame. Together with the external parts made of thermal plastic, an inexpensive car is produced despite the low volume production. Schuh has also incorporated many already existing components which has kept the development costs down to a reasonable level.
20,000 e.GO Life vehicles
are expected to run off the production line annually from 2019.
“It’s a fun car, very practical and affordable,” says Schuh when talking about his subcompact car. That he can successfully build electro-mobiles is something the professor has already proved: The StreetScooter he designed, the electrical postal service car, is enjoying increasing demand. But can he put the fear up the traditional car makers? The developer laughs, “Nobody should be scared of us. But when the larger companies turn around later and say that they got some impulses through our work at e.GO Mobile, then that would be rather nice.”
One of the impulses could be an additional feature for automated driving. An e.GO Life can be fitted with self-parking technology as an optional extra. In multi-story car parks with appropriate sensors, the vehicle can set off driverless in search of a parking space. It will be possible in, amongst other places, Aachen, where Bosch and e.GO have equipped the multi-story car park in the grounds of the RWTH Aachen University with the so-called Automated Valet Parking technology.
Schuh’s good advice for long trips
Automated driving in urban areas is seen by Schuh as a big challenge but he is certain, “It will drastically change our mobility behavior.” In his opinion, automated bus services have the potential to, for example, enable public transport companies to cover their costs. For Schuh, fuel cells and plug-in hybrids are potential drive concepts for long trips outside the city.
And what do owners of an e.GO Life have to do if they want to travel non-stop for more than one hundred kilometers as emission-free as possible? Schuh has a good piece of advice for them: “It’s best to take the train.”
An interview with Günther Schuh, founder and CEO of e.GO Mobile AG
Günther Schuh, 59
Founder and CEO of e.GO Mobile AG
I think the real honest electric vehicle concept is a fuel cell concept with a small battery and an electric drive. This will be available in ten, fifteen years on a payable, affordable level.
Günther Schuh has been the professor for production engineering at the RWTH Aachen University since 2002. He was the co-founder of the research initiative and current electric vehicle “StreetScooter” and founded his own manufacturing company e.GO Mobile in 2015.
Too expensive, too little range: In Günther Schuh’s opinion, the problems associated with 100 percent electrically-driven cars will not be solved so quickly. It is why he wants the inexpensive e.GO Life to satisfy a niche need — and has designed a city runaround for short distances.