Get Set, e.GO!
There is very little Günther Schuh, managing director of e.GO Mobile, doesn’t know about e-cars. We talked to the professor about self-driving cars, production engineering and his ambitious plans for the future.
Günther Schuh has been Professor of Production Systematics at RWTH Aachen University since 2002. He is also director of the FIR Research Institute for Rationalization, one of the directors of RWTH’s Machine Tool Laboratory (WZL) and part of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT). Before heading up e.GO, he was co-founder of the electric vehicle manufacturer Streetscooter.
Mr. Schuh, where is e.Go currently at?
We have had to change some components, so that has held us up a bit, but we are still planning to go into service production in March 2018. For the first three months, we’ll be producing only one or two cars a day, while we work up our new system and factory. Then, by November, we’ll be up to 45 vehicles a day. We originally intended to produce 800 cars in 2018 but the demand has been so great and we’ve already sold so many, that we have been forced to expand production to 1,800 vehicles next year.
Are there any developments you can share with us?
Our second car is the People Mover. We are planning to produce 400 of these in 2019 and by 2020 will be making some 3,500, around 30 per cent of which will be self-driving. Between 2021 and 2022, we’ll be producing at least 15,000 at our factory.
We’re also planning to launch e.GO Life’s big brother in 2019: the Booster is a longer reinforced version with more performance and a bigger battery. We are building two new factories for them on our site in Aachen and are planning a fourth factory for the e.GO Life and Booster chassis.
»Anyone who can afford between €170 and €200 a month can afford our e-car.«
Günther Schuh, managing director of e.GO Mobile
Will cost-conscious consumers be able to afford e.GO cars?
The most urgent challenge facing our society is to free our city streets from emissions. And that will only work if the products are affordable. I’m often asked whether it’s possible to make affordable electric cars at all. The answer is “Yes!” As far as I know, the Streetscooter is still the only e-car worldwide to undercut its petrol-driven counterparts in total cost of ownership. We have shown it is technically and conceptually possible and we’re confident that the market will react to it.
What customers are you aiming at and what feedback have you been getting from them?
We collected user stories and identified nine that were on target, from healthcare service providers to bakers, pizza deliveries and especially “taxi moms.” We used them to develop a profile and went public with it in May. Since then, the customers have been coming to us. We are selling around 15 cars a day, without any marketing.
How can you compete with the established OEMs?
People who drive in cities can’t afford to pay more than 15 cents per passenger-kilometer. An E-Smart costs around 32 cents, an Opel Ampere some 45 cents per passenger-kilometer – and our car costs 14.
Profile view of the e.GO Life 20. This lightweight, green and economical little e-car can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 35 seconds and has a turning circle of approx. 9m.
© e.GO Mobile AG (2)
Also, the e.GO is basically only available on a full subscription with leasing, servicing, upgrades and insurance, while a minimal deposit payment means the entry bar is extremely low. Regardless of how old their car is or how little cash they’ve got, anyone who can afford between €170 and €200 a month can afford our e-car – but not any other one. So, that’s why I say: “It’ll work!”
Is Germany a good place to build e-cars?
Production engineering is the real strength of Germany’s research landscape. In relation to GDP and population density, Germany has more R&D facilities working closely with industry than any other country on earth.
How are you financed – with outside investment?
After Streetscooter was sold to DHL and the German Post Office, we made enough money to finance the second and third capital increases ourselves. We have just completed the seventh round, so in four capital increases we have brought purely strategic investors on board. We have just launched our eighth increase, which should be completed by Christmas. Then we will be worth roughly a billion euros.