Electric cars are no longer just gaining ground thanks to Tesla and are now being supported by the federal government as much as possible. Last week, the Bundestag approved a bill with the votes of the grand coalition that is intended to facilitate the development of charging infrastructure: In the case of new buildings or major renovations of residential buildings with more than five parking spaces, the laying of cables for electric car charging stations must be prepared and installed in the future Space to be left for this. However, the field for electric cars is not yet being prepared at all levels: on the contrary, in the same week the administration of a small Franconian town banned cars with drive batteries from entering one of their underground car parks.
Electric car ban in Kulmbach
With the “Law for the establishment of a building-integrated charging and line infrastructure” (also known as GEIG for short), the government wants to create the conditions for accelerating the expansion of the electric car charging infrastructure, as stated in the explanation of the draft. It also implements an EU directive in national law.
The procedure envisaged therein does not seem awkward: building owners are not obliged to immediately create rows of charging points for electric cars that will only be available in the future. But from certain sizes and in certain quotas, they have to make preparations for this. New residential buildings with five or more associated parking spaces (which can also be located in the building, i.e. as an underground car park) must be provided with line infrastructure for electric car charging stations for each of them. In commercial buildings, this obligation applies to every fifth person with ten or more parking spaces, and a charging point must also be set up.
Of course, there were electric car charging stations even before this law was passed, according to information on its official website, including in an underground car park in the Upper Franconian district town of Kulmbach with around 26,000 inhabitants. 78 parking spaces are designated for the system at the local Eku-Platz, and in brackets “3 Elektro”. Because of a burning car in the garage in September 2020, it was closed until last week – and when it reopened, the civil engineering department let it be known that electric cars and hybrids will no longer be allowed to park there in future.
Garage closed due to combustion golf
That sounds absurd not only because of the charging stations that are apparently there, but also just like that. As Tesla never tires of emphasizing, for example, its electric cars burn much less often than conventional vehicles with combustion engines. And the fire that forced the five-month closure did not start from a Tesla or other electric car, but from a VW Golf, as pictures from the local fire department show.
Nevertheless, the Kulmbach civil engineering department does not want to see either electric cars or hybrids in the newly repaired underground car park, reported the portal infranken.de. “The fire brigade cannot extinguish such vehicles, but has to let them burn out,” an employee of the office is quoted as saying. In addition, the ceilings are so low that it is not possible to remove a burning car with heavy equipment from the garage. And if the reinforced concrete is exposed to heat for too long, there is a risk that the building will collapse over it.
The city administration seems to have carefully considered its ban on electric cars. Whether it makes sense, however, is another matter. The Munich fire brigade later very clearly contradicted this assessment: “Locking a garage for alternatively powered cars is not appropriate from a fire protection point of view (..),” she wrote in a press release with a view to the regulation in Kulmbach. The obligation to comply with building regulations ensures that garages are sufficiently safe even in the event of a fire, regardless of the type of drive the cars parked there.
So maybe Germany needs another law to promote electromobility – one that says that underground car park operators not only have to provide charging options, but also ensure that electric cars can actually be parked and charged in them.