E-cars may become mass phenomenon, Verbund boss says

The head of Austria’s biggest electricity provider has claimed electric cars (e-cars) could be established in Austria in less than 15 years.

Verbund AG chief Wolfgang Anzengruber told the Kurier: “E-cars will either be a fun topic or something affecting the masses (in 2025).”

The ex-Palfinger boss made aware of polls “30 years ago” revealing that very few people could imagine using personal computers. He claimed the situation could be similar considering e-cars as Austria struggles to catch up with international developments.

Only 112 e-cars were registered for use in Austria last year when more than 328,000 vehicles were bought and registered overall – despite public subsidies for the acquisition of e-cars in some regions of the country. Eco-friendly lifestyle pressure groups have appealed to lawmakers to do more about promoting e-cars.

Anzengruber described forecasts of 200,000 e-cars on Austrian roads in 2025 as “realistic”. He said the traffic ministry of Social Democrat (SPÖ) Doris Bures predicted twice as many.

Speaking about future scenarios for his industry, the Verbund CEO said he could imagine internet company Google or social networking site Facebook selling electricity to private customers. “They are masters considering communication and know what digital natives want. We, the energy suppliers of today, are still too conservative. (…) Their (Google and Facebook) approach to customers is a better one,” he told the Kurier today (Thurs).

Verbund has 250,000 clients in Austria. The company – which is also engaged in energy sector projects abroad – achieved a turnover of 1.87 billion Euros in the first half of this year. Austria has a stake of 51 per cent in Verbund via Industry-Holding Stock Corporation ÖIAG.

Anzengruber’s statements on e-cars follow harsh criticism and outspoken scepticism of a respected automotive industry expert. Friedrich Indra, who worked for carmakers Audi, Opel and General Motors (GM), claimed motorists were still unwilling to exchange a “tried and calculable technology” for developments which so far failed to answer some of the most urgent questions.

“What happens with the battery? What is my (e-)car worth in five years’ time? Will I even be able to sell it?” Indra told magazine profil in September when being asked which aspects the e-mobility industry has to deal with.

“Many people may be open-minded towards future technologies – especially in polls. But when it comes to making acquisitions, they don’t want to give up anything,” the Viennese engineer said.