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Company car: Why Annalena Baerbock gets an electric car and Robert Habeck doesn't


The traffic light coalition wants to expand electromobility – also to a small extent in the cabinet’s vehicle fleet. But there are big differences there. It is already clear which drive Transport Minister Volker Wissing will choose.

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Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock by car in Warsaw

Photo: Kay Nietfeld / picture alliance / dpa

Climate is a matter for the boss.

This applies both to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who is causing a stir with the appointment of Greenpeace boss Jennifer Morgan as a German climate diplomat, and to Robert Habeck, whose ministry bears the same name as economy and climate.

However, the two Greens are taking different approaches to demonstrating their own mobility as climate-friendly.

It is a highly symbolic subject.

There was excitement about Baerbock's first trip abroad because the minister took the plane to Paris.

The train continued to Brussels, as her party friends emphasized.

The colleague Habeck, who is no less conscious of staging, likes to show himself in wind and weather on foot in Berlin's government district.

Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir takes the wheel, as he did when he was sworn in.

In everyday life, however, cars are also needed.

Then they should at least be powered electrically, as the government wants the people to do: 15 million electric cars by 2030 are the goal on German roads.

Four out of five greens electrified

At least partially electric, the traffic light coalition is already on the way.

The »Automobilwoche« counts two purely battery-electric ministerial cars in an overview, two more are ordered: Özdemir has an Audi E-Tron.

Environment Minister Steffi Lemke has taken over the Mercedes-Benz EQC that was purchased from her predecessor Svenja Schulze (SPD) - last year, when it was still under the grand coalition, it was the first all-electric ministerial car in the federal government.

Family Minister Anne Spiegel has ordered the new BMW i4 model and Foreign Minister Baerbock the Mercedes-Benz EQS, the flagship of the German electric car industry, so to speak.

It is a prestige success for the Stuttgart car brand, but the delivery date depends on "the current situation on the semiconductor market," according to the Foreign Office.

When the two vehicles arrive, four of the five green cabinet members will already be fully electric.

Missing Robert Habeck, the climate minister.

As vice chancellor, he "basically drives in a specially protected vehicle belonging to the Federal Criminal Police Office" and uses the various vehicles from the federal government's fleet, his ministry said.

The selection is also based on safety aspects, which is why no information is given about the models driven.

For this reason, the German Environmental Aid has always excluded the ministers who are bound by BKA instructions because of the high security level from their regular “company car check”.

That's why Olaf Scholz doesn't have to fear a red card from environmental aid for his heavily armored new chancellor body Mercedes-Benz S 680 Guard (standard fuel consumption: 19.5 liters of petrol/100 kilometers, CO2 emissions: 442 grams/kilometer).

Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP), Interior Minister Nancy Faeser and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach are also on the road in special security vehicles, and the companions of Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (all SPD) are secret.

Such cars with bodies weighing several tons are simply only available with combustion engines.

From the manufacturer's point of view, building electric versions according to the BKA standard is not worthwhile.

Of course, the security requirements also apply to the Foreign Minister.

Baerbock is therefore getting its Mercedes-Benz EQS as an additional option to the BKA-tested fleet and can only use it if there is no “assessment of dangerous situations”, according to the Foreign Office.

And then there's always the Audi A8, which is already available for such situations, a plug-in hybrid that can run on both electric and petrol.

As long as the leasing contract is in effect, this car will also be available parallel to the EQS.

How often can Baerbock come to ride EQS at all?

Not specified.

The fleet matters

"An extra car just standing around for the minister wouldn't make so much sense," says Barbara Metz, deputy managing director of environmental aid - but speaking hypothetically, expressly not as a criticism of Baerbock.

Basically, the organization does not aim for chic, electric prestige company cars, but a different attitude towards mobility.

The federal government should also support the trend towards company bicycles or public transport season tickets as an alternative.

Company cars are out, said insurance lobbyist Jörg Asmussen, who himself was State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance and Labor for many years.

"It can serve as a role model by ensuring that the fleet is greener overall," Metz von Baerbock wishes.

Habeck's press office also refers to this: The Ministry of Economics and Climate already has 65 percent electric or hybrid drives.

By the end of the year, the proportion of e-vehicles should increase to 86 percent and average CO2 emissions should drop from today's 76.8 to around 49 grams per kilometer.

At the top of the other ministries, plug-in hybrids are mostly used.

That satisfies the official definition of an electric car, but not the claim of environmental aid.

"They're even worse than combustion engines," says Barbara Metz - even if they're powered to a large extent electrically and not just with petrol.

"Because of the higher weight due to two drives on board" alone, plug-in hybrids are a bad example in terms of sustainability, precisely because they are supposedly considered to be environmentally friendly.

After all, they recover energy when braking, which at least partially compensates for the additional weight.

The environmental aid does not want to reward the traffic lights with green cards for the new fully electric cars either.

You have to take a close look at how efficient the vehicles really are.

An important minister is still missing from the company car overview: Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) has not yet decided on an offer from the three German premium manufacturers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

A particularly intriguing question: Which drive does the liberal choose who so often uses the credo of being “open to technology”?

It is becoming apparent that the body will be battery-electric, writes the »Automobilwoche«.

The ministry initially left a request from SPIEGEL unanswered.

With a purely electric car, Wissing would also pay tribute to reality: The e-fuels for combustion engines, which he has repeatedly brought up, are actually not yet available.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-02-10

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