Meet Germany’s “Sustainable” Transportation Of The Future (Worse Than The Communist East German Trabant)!

Boy I’m glad lived in the time that I’ve lived in so far: a postwar period when we saw relative peace, prosperity, free markets, spreading democracy and freedom, and immense technical progress. Those days now seem to be going in reverse.

Germany's car of the future

Germany’s vision for the future family car: The new family “pedelec”, big enough for 2 kids,and flowers from the garden center. Source: German Ministry of Environment.

I’m worried about my kids. I fear they will be living in a world that will be less democratic, one where the citizens will be enslaved by technology and live in markets that will be firmly under the control of a faceless, unaccountable technocracy run by so-called self-anointed master central planners. This is what is taking hold in today’s Germany.

Let them ride electric bikes

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Environment (UBA) has just released a publication on one of the key components it envisions for the country’s future mobility scheme for the masses: electric bicycles, or pedelecs, see above for an example variant.

The reports abstract tells us:

As part of an integrated transport planning scheme, pedelecs are an important component of sustainable mobility in cities, but also, most notably, in rural areas. From an environmental perspective, this type of electric vehicle should be embraced, actively promoted and encouraged in order to make pedelecs appealing to more user groups as an attractive, inexpensive and environmentally sound form of transport that constitutes an alternative to private motorized transport.”

The aim, of course, so they say, is to rescue the climate by reducing the emissions of “pollutant” CO2, especially by cars. And to do this, central planning by masterminds is the only way. The green trend is one that is taking us back to bad old days of notoriously inefficient communist-style central planning. One only needs to look at Germany’s “Energiewende” to realize just how bad the inefficiency is getting.

I don’t have anything against people buying e-bikes, of course, but I do have serious reservations about governments punishing us out of our dependable, safe, and efficient cars and throwing us a dog treat every time we move or behave in a way they feel is best.

I’ve looked at e-bikes, but found them far too expensive for the real benefit they offer.

Will replace few cars

Unfortunately the grand scheme of the e-bike will end up having a similar result as the renewable energies. The German government has so far committed 200 billion euros to expanding green energies by some 80 gigawatts, but they have yet to reduce the consumption of coal and gas fired electricity by any significant amount. More on that tomorrow. The result will be similar with e-bikes…few cars will get replaced.

Germany mobilty of the future

Weather for e-bikes. Unfortunately such days are rare in Germany and generally confined to tourism pamphlets. Source: German Ministry of Environment.

Utopian fantasy

One problem is the that the e-bike has become a utopian fantasy for the UBA. To illustrate this, just look at the photos it uses in its report. The powerful government agency would like us to think that the weather in Germany is like the weather in Phoenix, Arizona – in November, and year-round – where temperatures and conditions are very agreeable. The truth is that German weather is often very lousy, cold, wet, windy, and so traveling by e-bike is often far from pleasurable or practical.

People will still need to buy and own cars for bad weather and for most trips over 10 kilometers, or trips involving a passenger. E-bikes will replace very few cars – unless it gets forced. Nothing offers flexibility, comfort, speed and convenience like the automobile, and few people will be willing to give it up.

Cargo cycles, pedelecs for business trips

In its recommendation part of the report, the UBA urges political decision makers provide “ample financial and human resources for the development of bike-friendly infrastructure” and that businesses implement pedelecs in commercial traffic and employ “cargo cycles” and for transport tasks. It also recommends pedelecs for business trips and commuter journeys to work premises. “Many car and compact van trips can instead be made using pedelecs or bikes,” the UBA writes.

To me an e-bike sounds like a good way to limit the freedom and mobility of women who stay home to care for the family.


18 responses to “Meet Germany’s “Sustainable” Transportation Of The Future (Worse Than The Communist East German Trabant)!”

  1. DirkH

    I agree concerning the as of now unbeatable utility of a car; (which will be exponentiated by automated driving, freeing drivers to use their time in the car for other things), but I disagree with
    “One problem is the that the e-bike has become a utopian fantasy for the UBA.”

    THAT is not a PROBLEM; it is a great distraction for the useless busybodies, as it stops them from damaging more than they already do.

  2. Ed Caryl

    Why would people want an e-bike when they can have an e-car, eventually one that drives itself? Did they check with BMW?

  3. Curious George

    The real goal is an iBike, not an eBike. Pedaling is good for your health.

    1. DirkH

      Some e-bikes work by amplifying your pedaling strength by a factor you choose. Very useful in hilly terrain; if you don’t want to arrive at work all sweaty. So, you still pedal, but can use the motor as help where needed.

  4. sod

    I agree with some parts of your post.

    I do not like bikes. I walk, i use a car and i use public transport when it makes sense (i have a 50% reduction train ticket, for example).

    But i also think there is a misconcpetion in your post: The idea behind the pedelec is mostly not to replace cars, but to replace the use of cars.

    and this is not by force, but to the benefit of all. The two of us are not the target audience for this paper or the pedelec. Those are people who like bikes, but who do not use it as often as possible, because it is a physical challenge to them.

    And you are right, today it is also a money thing (i like my bikes cheap, i mostly buy a used one. I dislike having to watch my bike)

    When more people use the bike, for example in towns, it is to the benefit of all, even those who want/must use a car.

    Many of my relatives own pedelcs and using it is really a nice thing (i still will not buy one in the near future, though)


    There is a second important aspect: One of the reason why the electric car failed in the past was a “one bridge too far” effect.

    People were planning to run cars with batteries, while the single typical prodcut running on batteries was an electric torch light.

    This has changed dramatically. today, mobile phones and notebooks are moving battery development.

    And the medium size deployment in pedelecs is just another important stepping stone towards electric cars. People can also see for themselves, whether the rechange and battery lifetime work out for them or not.


    PS: so my advice: if you have the opportunity to use one, try it out. Do not buy one, if you do not like bikes in general. Watch out, how they become cheap fast and basically one of those things that nearly evberybody has or can access.

    PPS: i do not know, whether everybody here understands the concept: pedelcs do only assist while you use the pedals. that is the reason, why it is classified as bike and not some sort of motorbike/scooter. This has many advanteges (insurance, burocracy…)

    1. DirkH

      “But i also think there is a misconcpetion in your post: The idea behind the pedelec is mostly not to replace cars, but to replace the use of cars.”

      That’s true. I know a woman like the woman in the photo. She has a cargo bike similar to the one depicted but not electric.

      She’s an Eco loon. She and her hubby also have three cars, one of them electric.

      They are absolute resource hogs compared to me (who drives a battered old VW Polo, too cheap to throw away, and a quarter million km on the clock and counting) and convinced the world is coming to an end. They also believe the world is warming, and that it is a problem.

      Sometimes it is fun talking to irrational people like that.

      BTW talking about resource wastage, my personal vision is, well I don’t tell you but I’ll tell you the premise, how would our lifes look like if we’d get 1000 times the electricity for the money we pay.

      Ponder the possibilities.(And No sod, we can’t make that much energy with solar cells and wind turbines.)

      1. sod

        both things do exist. There are colleagues who ride the bike to work every day and a huge distance. Thesy do not have a second car.

        and i have noticed as well, that some climate sceptics are living a rather ecofriendly (and even producing little CO2) live any way.

        And even those pseudo-greens with all those cars are important, as they drive the technological development (which i will not, as i wont by an electric car for a long long time)


        This week a super market chain is running pedelecs for 1000€ (still expensive for a bike, but not completely nuts any longer)

        At the same time, the car batteries seem to be cheaper today, than studies thought they would be in 2020:

        And there are huge increases in range as well. A doubled range (200 miles or 300 km) should be enough to handle all trips (one way) apart from big holidays.

        Perhaps i will get a used pedelec sooner than i thought and even a used electric car around 2020?

      2. Loodt Pretorius

        VW Polo? Sensible man, a notch up in my estimation.

  5. handjive

    PG, it also has room for a dog, seen in photo.

    How green is your pet?

    1 dog = a SUV.
    The green stupid. It hurts.

    1. DirkH
  6. lemiere jacques

    fine way to limit number of children per family…

  7. Bernd Felsche

    IIRC, cycling in Germany is about 5 times more dangerous per trip than travelling by car.

    There are also negative health consequences even without being involved in an accident; mostly respiratory and circulatory problems in the temperate months; dehydration when it’s warmer and chillblaines, etc when its cold.

    Look to me like UBA is looking to cull the German population.

  8. WAM

    Think a bit more positively.
    In the time of growing unemployment, it is a wonderful idea to replace cars by rikshas. I believe there are (and there were) many countries it works.
    So at the end the money spent by officials for study trips abroad has born some fruits.

  9. Dell Wilson

    I’m a skeptic and couldn’t care less about saving an ounce of CO2, but I’m also a full-time bike commuter and avid recreational cyclist. There are benefits to a cycling (or any active) lifestyle. I’ve been to Netherlands and Denmark many times and bicycles are very popular as just a way of life. The bakefiets you show at the top of the article is very popular in urban areas in The Netherlands, but is not very practical here in North Alabama. Please don’t disparage cycling just because some eco-nazis promote it as a way to save the earth from the perceived horrors of CO2.

  10. Alex B

    Just a little correction from a Dutchman, it is spelled “bakfiets”, a bike with a container to transport things in. It is nothing new, before motorization took off they were widely used in the Netherlands. At first only moved by muscle power, later also with the aid of a small 2-stroke mopedengine. They were kinda reinvented for domestic use some years ago.

    In Holland a lot of short-distance transport is done by bike. Not because of any steering from above, but because it is the most convenient or fastest means of transport. Dedicated bycicle paths have been part of the infrastructure for years and years.

  11. CraigM350

    All laudable but when it’s cold, wet and windy (like yesterday and today) do you want a car or a bike?

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