Project manager and mobility expert
Swiss Federal Office of Energy
Jean-Marc Geiser, what car do you drive yourself?
Since I work at the Federal Office of Energy, I don’t want to only concern myself with sustainable and alternative mobility technologies from a theoretical point of view. I switched to an electric car a year and a half ago after deciding I wanted to find the most energy-efficient car with the best ecological footprint.
And, how are you getting on with your electric car?
Firstly, you should know that, before starting my job at the Office of Energy, I worked in the automotive industry for more than 30 years. I was a true petrol-head; petrol flowed not just through my veins, but through my thoughts too. So, before switching to a vehicle with an electric engine, I was sceptical. But, during my first test drive of the Cupra Born, something became clear to me: this was the one. My wife and I are delighted – and not just because of the energy efficiency factor, but also because of how exceptionally enjoyable it is to drive. For us, it's obvious: once electric, always electric.
Where and how do your charge your vehicle?
That’s an important question and probably one that anyone who considers making the switch asks themselves. My wife and I are home owners and we have our own solar panels installed on our roof. We fuel our car using our own solar energy. Of course I’m aware that I’m in a privileged position. For those who are renting, the matter of charging infrastructure often goes hand in hand with certain challenges.
That was my next question: are there enough charging stations for electric vehicles in Switzerland?
With over 11’000 public charging stations at present, the network in this country is actually quite dense. But, when you think about the fact that road traffic in Switzerland is set to become fully electric by 2050, the network needs to be expanded even further.
What has been the trend in electric vehicle sales over the past two years?
Demand is increasing steadily. In the first half of 2023, one in every five new registrations was an electric car. If you count hybrid vehicles, the figure is around 50%. The curve is pointing upwards. Now, car manufacturers are being asked to develop their ranges further to make electric cars accessible to more people.
What do you mean by that?
At this point, there’s an electric car to suit almost every budget. However, manufacturers are still mainly focused on building cars for which they can achieve the highest possible margins. This means you don't come across electric estate cars and there are very few small electric cars; the range of SUVs on offer, however, is huge.
According to a TCS (Touring Club Suisse) survey, half of the Swiss population believe that they are either “very likely” or “more likely than not” to purchase an electric car in the next three years. What conclusion do you draw from this?
Interest in this latest technology is growing steadily, but the issue throws up quite a few questions as well. There are lots of misconceptions and clichés that don’t – or no longer – apply. There is therefore a great need for more information. We're aiming to fill this information void with our “Go with the Flow” campaign.
Where is there the greatest need for more clarification?
Everywhere, actually. Everyone's talking about electromobility – but the level of knowledge on it is surprisingly low. For example, many people don’t know how long it takes to charge a car, that there are financial incentives and tax benefits available, that service and maintenance costs are low, that the purchase price of a mid-range electric car is not necessary higher than a comparable combustion engine car (TCO study) or that great strides have been made in increasing the range of electric vehicles over the last five years. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge can influence whether or not someone decides to make the switch or not. This is where we plan to start with our campaign.
“Go with the Flow” is basically an advertising platform for electric vehicles, then?
No! Our main objective is sharing information and facts. Of course we are also aiming to raise awareness amongst people and inform them about the potential of electromobility and the advantages it brings. But we aren’t missionaries for electromobility.
So what is the definitive aim of the campaign?
“Go with the Flow” is targeted at people who are considering buying a new car or who are already in the process of doing so. Our website contains information about the latest state of the technology and how anyone can make this new form of mobility work for their everyday lives, regardless of their living situation. If someone is interested in buying a new car, he or she should make a well-informed choice for a clean, energy-efficient model.
One of the campaign’s partners is Mobility. What makes the company a good fit for your campaign?
As the leading car sharing provider in Switzerland, Mobility plays a key role in helping create more sustainable mobility solutions. Mobility doesn’t just stand for sustainability though; innovation and customer centricity are also key principles. These are all aspects which are integral to shaping sustainable mobility.
What do you think about Mobility’s aim to be completely electric by 2030?
The transport sector is responsible for around 30 % of CO2 emissions and uses over 30 % of available energy just on its own. It's great to see Mobility setting an example and aiming to decarbonise its entire fleet.
By 2030, Switzerland’s leading car sharing provider is aiming to completely electrify its fleet. The company already offers its customers the opportunity to rent around 400 electric cars and test them out during a typical day. In addition to this, Mobility supports future-oriented projects. For example, theV2X Suisse pilot project launched last year saw 50 Mobility electric cars transformed into power banks. When not being driven, the cars return electric power to the power grid, relieving the burden on the network.