Deutsche Welle and the untruths about electric cars

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Deutsche Welle and the untruths about electric cars-untruths

For years, Deutsche Welle has been spreading untruths about electric cars in the “Wirtschaft_plus” format. For twelve posts full of false statements (most of them moderated by Thomas Spahn), there is a positive one from Christian Uhlig. So that everyone can get an idea for themselves, I list all the posts here and refute the false claims they contain. Depending on the contribution, optionally only with one point – unless a contribution is a collection of misinformation, then I will provide the appropriate counter-argument for each quote. Some untruths appear in several videos – I still only cover them once.

“Eco-scam e-car!”

Released: 22.08.2017, see here.

“That the country of the inventors of the first car with an internal combustion engine will probably be the first to get rid of it.”

Not correct. Norway wants to be the first country in the world to bury the combustion engine in 2025 (there is no concrete law, they want to end the combustion engine by promoting electric cars). There are debates about this in many countries, so far it has only become law in Taiwan, where combustion engines will be banned from 2035.

“The Stockholm environmental research institute IVL recently calculated that the production of the huge battery of a Tesla S electric car alone blows 17 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.”

No, the IVL did not calculate that, it is a simplification that a Swedish journalist made on the basis of various unfavorable assumptions. The statement “17 tons of CO2 for a Tesla battery” is nowhere to be found in the study cited by Spahn. In addition, the study was revised 2 years later by the authors themselves and is now very clearly positive for electric cars.

“E-cars only become environmentally friendly when no more fossil energy flows into the battery when refueling and they are produced exclusively with regenerative energies.”

Of course, a high proportion of green electricity makes sense in principle, but that it has to be 100% green electricity is a lie. Even with a lower proportion of green electricity in the electricity mix, electric cars are in a better position than combustion engines – also in Germany, according to the Federal Environment Agency.

“Eco swindle e-buses”

Released: 12.03.2018, see here.

Contrary to Spahn’s claims, the BVG is very satisfied with its electric buses. MVG is also making good experiences in Munich, line 100 is completely electric.

The question as to why more buses will not simply be electrified via overhead lines is justified; there are certainly enough lines in Germany where this would be possible. However, the advantage of the bus compared to a tram, namely the higher flexibility, is completely lost with overhead lines. In addition, overhead lines are very susceptible to weather influences and vandalism and drive up the costs so much.

Wikipedia provides a detailed list of the reasons against trolleybuses.

“Life cycle assessment of e-cars”

Released: 16.04.2018, see here.

“But of all German diesel vehicles drive much more climate-friendly [than a Tesla].”

No, don’t drive. In the study cited, ADAC used data from 2013, with the current data everything looked very different. You could have noticed if you had read the studies you cited beforehand.

“Tesla: Burning Questions!”

Released: 05.06.2018, see here.

After listing 3 (In words: Three!) burning Teslas, Thomas Spahn asks if Teslas are “rolling time bombs”. Interestingly, there were no recalls for Tesla because of these fires. Some time later BMW called 324.000 cars back because they were not only in Thomas Spahn’s fantasy, but also in reality of fire. Why didn’t Spahn have any “burning questions” here??

“Huge flop e-car bonus”

Released: 09.07.2018, see here.

Thomas Spahn does not comment here, but Christian Uhlig. In fact, this article is a bit more differentiated, I share the demands for a better charging infrastructure and the argument that the wealthier people in particular benefit from the funding cannot be dismissed out of hand. However, the premium was not a “huge flop”, in the meantime two thirds of the funding have been called up, the timing was simply not right. That’s why the extension, which Uhlig speaks out against in the video, probably made sense.

“Brand new e-cars for German non-electrifiers”

Released: 10.09.2018, see here.

“What nobody wants, there must be more of it.”

Spahn says this sentence Ironic, but it is actually what’s in it: the demand for electric cars was low in 2018, because many models were not attractive. The solution is indeed to offer more, but above all better models.

“Because those who are now pushing electric cars like this have not even been able to inspire their senior staff. The proportion of electric and hybrid motors is 20.000 company cars from VW (…) in the per thousand range.

Which electric cars should VW employees drive?? The big model offensive is just coming, so far there is only the Golf and the Up electric – which manager drives a small or compact car? In addition to image, the company car policy also plays an important role: If a manager is entitled to a VW Phaeton or at least a Passat, he will hardly refuse and say: “I’d rather take the Up.”

“Wrong way e-car”

Released: 17.01.2019, see here.

“The battery in a Tesla X SUV weighs 625 kg. So when the proud Teslafahrer buns fetch, sit 7 uninvited passenger with an average weight of 85 kg in the car (…).”

It is utter nonsense to convert the weight of a vehicle component to the unit “passengers”. Or Mr. Spahn calculates with a gasoline engine with a 255 kg combustion engine that it could also be three people weighing 85 kg?

“It’s not very climate-friendly to fetch rolls with so much useless weight…”

That’s right, it’s complete nonsense to transport half a kilogram of rolls with two tons of sheet metal. But does the electric drive make it worse, or isn’t it just as pointless with a combustion engine?? A vehicle comparable to the Tesla Model X, e.g.B. the Audi Q7 is just 200 kg lighter – with optimal equipment. In the worst case, he even weighs 200 kg more, why hasn’t Mr. Spahn made a video about it yet??

“…or even drive around with it. This is pure waste of energy!”

Not correct. The weight is significantly less relevant in electric cars than in combustors because the multi-energy needed for the acceleration of the weight also returns to a decent part in the form of more recuperation energy during delays. You can criticize heavy cars because they put more strain on the roads, but they are not just a waste of energy. Example: A Tesla Model 3 consumes 14.1 kWh according to WLTP and weighs 1.700kg. A 600 kg lighter Smart fortwo EQ consumes significantly more at 16.6 kWh. The statement that heavy electric cars are a pure waste of energy is quite simply nonsense.

“(…) and whose [the batteries of the e-cars] performance drops significantly after 4-5 years, like that of cell phones”

The comparison between mobile phone and car batteries is simply absurd: in most cars, the battery is actively cooled or heated, the charging capacity is adjusted depending on the state of charge and there are reserves at the upper and lower end that are not used. These things go easy on a car battery, which is not the case with mobile phones. Some modern smartphones can be fully charged in half an hour – without battery cooling! That’s unthinkable in cars.

Thanks to these protective measures, car batteries do not “break down” after four to five years. Yes, they lose some capacity, but that’s a few percent. This is completely different from a mobile phone, which lasts a day when you buy it and only lasts half a day after a few years.

It must also be mentioned here that.B. Toyota now gives a million kilometers and a 15-year guarantee on the batteries in the ProAce electric bus. The modern internal combustion engine is designed to last a million kilometers?

Death of the small cars

Released: 23.05.2019, see here.

Here Christian Uhlig comments that there will soon be no more small cars because the CO2 penalties would make them too expensive. However, electric small cars are unattractive, he refers to the VW e-Up, the 19th.000 € cost. As far as right, but since then has been a development: Meanwhile, there is the facelift of the small electric flash after promotion already from 12.000 € – that’s a thousand euros less than the combustion variant. In the long term, electrification is the salvation for small cars, precisely because adequate exhaust technology would be far too expensive.

Billion grave e-car

Released: 07.11.2019, see here.

“Electric cars remain slow sellers.”

I wonder why you have to wait months for most of these “slow sellers”. If no one wanted these cars, they would all have to be available immediately. In fact, the opposite is true, many models are sold out. Yes, the absolute numbers are small, but growing steadily and strongly, many OEMs have underestimated the demand.

“If a compact electric car like the (…) VW ID.3 at least 30.000 €, it remains expensive despite the purchase premium.”

With the purchase premium that applied at the time of the video, the ID.3 24.000 € (meanwhile with the innovation bonus even only 21.000 €). For comparison: The average German new car costs 30.000 €, it’s 21.000 € anything but expensive.

This is also emphasized by VW, the ID.3 will be cheaper than a comparable diesel Golf.

“And who wants to test at their own expense whether the battery actually lasts more than the eight years that VW guarantees?”

Luckily, nobody has to do that anymore because there have already been people who have tested the lifespan of electric car batteries. HansjOrg von Gemmingen was the first Tesla driver to cover a million kilometers, the current battery has over 500.000 kilometers and it still works. With an average annual mileage of 13.000 kilometers, this battery (calendar aging not considered) could have been used for 38 years. Whether Mr. Spahn keeps his own cars longer than 38 years? Then, of course, his fears would be justified.

“Even this battery for the tiny electric smart costs 17.000 €.”

No she doesn’t, there are 11.000 € less.

“You can then charge the battery at least half full again in half an hour with fast charging…”

State of the art in this area is the Porsche Taycan, it does not charge half full in half an hour, but to 80% in 22 minutes. Tesla’s Model 3 is similarly fast.

“… when the charging station is free. But there should usually be others there.”

Why actually? At every opportunity, Spahn meticulously points out how few e-cars there are, how should each charging station be occupied with so few cars?

In six years of electromobility, I have had to wait at a charging station exactly once – five minutes. Well, that’s anecdotal evidence, maybe all the pillars are really constantly occupied. If so, Mr. Spahn certainly has a source for it.

“Mass motorization with electric cars is technically anything but mature.”

All well and good, but why does this immature technology meanwhile account for 50% of new registrations in countries like Norway? Or is the “not mature” just another of Thomas Spahn’s unfounded assumptions?

Electro obstinacy

Released: 02.09.2019, see here.

“Although all experts now admit that e-cars also pollute the environment (…)”

No, that has not been “admitted in the meantime”, every expert has always known that. Every car pollutes the environment: There is always tire wear, there are always traffic jams and production uses energy – it doesn’t matter which drive is working under the hood. Fewer cars therefore make sense in principle and we have learned in the current pandemic: Many journeys are superfluous and therefore one or the other vehicle is certainly necessary.

“with particularly high CO2 emissions in battery production. On behalf of the ADAC, environmental and energy experts have now compared the climate footprint of diesel, petrol, natural gas and electric cars in the Golf class – over the entire life cycle. Clear climate winners are natural gas cars.”

Once again, Spahn is trying a study that has gross errors and was torn up in the professional world. The contribution was not corrected.

“Because e-cars refuel around 40% of climate-killing electricity from lignite and hard coal from public sockets. The share is more likely to increase if all nuclear power plants are shut down.”

It is correct: the share of coal in the German electricity mix was not 40% in 2019, but 30%. For 2020 it is only 20% so far. Apart from that, all public charging stations are supplied with green electricity. Yes, it’s only green on paper, but it supports the expansion of renewable energies and ensures that more and more green electricity ends up in e-cars in reality.

“But even e-cars fueled with green electricity can never shake off their greenhouse gas backpack – if they compete against natural gas cars that have biomethane in the tank. They are climate-neutral on the road.”

Spahn often makes this assertion, which is only true in a very limited, unrealistic scenario, so I will only go into it at one point, see below.

“(…) In Berlin there is an unswerving belief in e-mobility.”

The only question is why Germany introduced an e-car purchase premium much later than most other countries and why it started with only 4.000 € was much lower than e.g.B. in the US (7.$500 tax benefit) or Norway (various benefits, e.g.a. omission of 25% VAT)? The government was probably not that steadfast after all.

“Like the federal government, the capital also relies on e-buses, although the test operation was a fiasco. (…) Nevertheless, Berlin wants to 1.Order 400 electric buses. why? Because the electric subsidy billions are waving.”

There can be problems in a test run, that’s why it’s called a test run. In the meantime, the BVG (see also above) are very satisfied with their e-buses and therefore want 1.Order 400 electric buses, not because of the subsidies. If the electric buses were really that bad, the BVG wouldn’t buy any despite the subsidies – it wouldn’t make any sense to get subsidies but then allow Berlin’s bus services to collapse.

For Mr. Spahn, it would have been worth looking at Shenzhen, China, where all 16 are.000 city buses have been fully electric for more than two and a half years.

“But all of this is neither environmental protection nor the responsible use of taxpayers’ money, but billions of dollars of stubbornness that someone urgently needs to put the brakes on! But: People with unshakable faith are known to be very difficult to dissuade.”

At this point I refrain from the obvious joke about a format of a tax-financed television station in which a stubborn person with unshakable faith urgently needs to be curbed. After all, that does not cost billions.

Biogas beats electric car

Published: 04.12.2019, to see here.

Spahn leads long and wide how great biogas cars are, but at the end restricts itself: the climate-friendly biomethane from residues available in Germany is sufficient for 5 million cars. Approved in Germany: 47 million. Based on the statements, I encourage that he relates to this Fraunhofer study – that can not be checked, because it was probably not necessary for the DW in 2019 to link sources or to call at least unambiguously.

What is in this study, but is not mentioned by Spahn: The Fraunhofer experts explicitly recommend, just due to the lack of availability of the biomethane, to use this rather in truck – in cars also batteries are a good option.

“The e-auto-bored”

Released: 24.06.2020, see here.

This video was the hook why I deal so deeply with Spahn’s machinations. So I wrote him an email (but didn’t get a reply), which I’m including here in full for the sake of simplicity:

Dear Mr. Spahn,

I am getting in touch with you because the topic is too complex for Twitter, here I can refute the statements from your video in detail.

  1. According to this, e-cars will produce 73% more greenhouse gases than modern diesel if, as planned, all cars in Germany were completely converted to e-drives.”

You only cite one study here, but it is wrong and has already been refuted (as already mentioned on Twitter). The Fraunhofer ISI has adjusted the false assumptions of the IfW and ends up in a corridor of 20 to 46% lower emissions from electric cars compared to diesels. long version.pdf

  1. “Already before X studies have provoked that the electric drive is only more environmentally friendly than modern burner when his greenhouse gas loads are shut down from battery production and operation.”

That’s true, but here you leave the crucial information: Most studies also prove in one breath with this determination that it is already the case. Thus, an electric vehicle 2017 according to the Federal Environment Agency had 16% less CO2 emissions than a diesel and 27% less than a gasoline engine, until 2025 these numbers should be set to 32 or. 40% rise. You are right, studies on the future can not be refurbished in the present, but the fact is that electric cars already have a better CO2 balance in the presence as a combustor. Yes, they are not climate-neutral and yes, the crediting as zero emission vehicles is quite nonsense. But they are already better than combustion engines and are getting better and better with the further expansion of renewable energies.

Source Federal Environment Agency:

Since you will certainly point out that there were also critical studies, I will also provide you with the refutation of all the studies that I am aware of:

– The “Sweden Study” has since been corrected by the authors themselves: https://www.south

– Hans-Werner Sinn’s invoices were picked apart in WirtschaftsWoche:

– The errors of the IfW were listed by the Fraunhofer ISI, as we already had above.

– A study by Fraunhofer ISE was corrected by TU Eindhoven:

– The work by Joanneum Research known as the “ADAC study” was also refuted from TU Eindhoven:

If there is one of “x studies” left that I haven’t mentioned, please let me know, I’ll be happy to find the right counter-statement.

  1. “They [biogas vehicles] are absolutely climate-neutral.”

This is only true in a very limited scenario, namely when waste materials are used. However, the amount of available biomethane would only be sufficient for 10% of car traffic, for the rest Fraunhofer expressly recommends electric cars in the article you linked to.

In truck traffic, biomethane could be sufficient for up to 50% of all vehicles, so it would be a lot more meaningful, because electrification here is much more difficult than in the car.

In addition, only CO2 is considered, methane and nitrous oxide (greenhouse effect factor 25 or. 300) Stay outside and are a big problem with biomethane, see: https: // www.Handelsblatt.COM / Technology / Energy Environment / Alternative Energy Frightening Climate Law / 4406150-4.HTML?Ticket = ST-2413283-RGXUAWK22FPCMZMX0FXT-AP1

Why do I write you that in detail? Every day is a lot of mischief about electromobility spread, I have been dealing with the topic for six years. If boulevard leaves or privacy false information spread, I do not care – at a broadcaster like the German wave. Is on the DW homepage, your credo is: “developments first, then report it.”In this sense, I hope to have helped you a better understanding of this topic.

You could show that, for example, in which you do your statements publicly correct. Then I also retract my rude criticism and publicly apologize for my tone.

I look forward to your reply and remain until then

Kind regards

Robin Engelhardt

all bad? no

To save Deutsche Welle‘s honor: There are definitely good articles about electric cars. There is also a ray of hope in the “wirtschaft_plus” format. Christian Uhlig explains very well that electric cars make sense even if the electricity does not yet come 100% from renewable energies. (By the way, I mistakenly lumped this post with Spahn’s untruths in a first link collection, for which I would like to apologize to Mr. Uhlig.) Unfortunately, this is only one of a total of 13 that deal with electric cars – the remaining 12 all have a negative tenor and are largely wrong.

Freedom of speech ≠ freedom of fact

It is clear that Thomas Spahn has been untruthful at least once in each of his articles about electric cars for the last three years, and many of them contain more false than true statements. Both Spahn himself and the economics department of Deutsche Welle refer to freedom of expression here – after all, these are comments. Apart from the fact that the comments are sometimes not and often only insufficiently marked as such, the comment does not release any journalist from his obligation to report truthfully. Of course, freedom of expression applies, but what Spahn and DW are referring to here is not freedom of expression, but freedom of facts: If a large number of studies clearly suggest that electric cars are more environmentally friendly than combustion engines, a statement along the lines of “diesels are more environmentally friendly than electric cars” is not an opinion , but a lie.

The director of Deutsche Welle will clarify whether Spahn and the business editorial team have violated their duties of truthful reporting and careful research – after Thomas Spahn did not respond to my email and only hid behind phrases on Twitter, I submitted an official program complaint.


Why Mr. Spahn behaves like this is beyond me. At this point, I expressly distance myself from speculation about its venality; ignorance and insufficient research seem to me to be the most plausible explanation.

The much more important “why?”is another: Why has Deutsche Welle been offering the platform for Mr. Spahn’s untruths for three years? It is legally obliged to truthful reporting and careful examination of the published reports – these rules no longer apply as soon as the word “comment” flashes somewhere briefly? Here, too, I do not want to fuel speculation about venality, but rather emphatically reject it. After all, who would be interested in running a campaign against electric cars on the channel that probably has one of the worst ranges in Germany? Here, too, a simpler explanation suggests itself to me: An unclean way of working. Thomas Spahn delivers a contribution, the editors do not check it or only insufficiently and it goes online, the end.

If Mr. Spahn or the DW business editorial team would like to give me a different explanation, I would be very happy. If there are still sources that refute my statements, I am of course open to it. And Mr. Spahn, if the sentence about Deutsche Welle as a “platform for a dispute” was not an empty phrase but a serious offer, I’ll be happy to take the time!

Robin Engelhardt has this article under the title: “Provocative. personally. wrong” on his platform on 26. June 2020 put online and offers us with its additional publication on the opportunity to consciously deal with the topic.

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4 thoughts on “Deutsche Welle and the untruths about electric cars”

  1. thanks for that. well done. I’ve already sent DW a lengthy email about the nonsense about the weight. There was even an answer that DW had ‘also written positively about e-cars‘. Just ridiculous. Such employees are unacceptable for a public broadcaster.

  2. I don’t understand Thomas Spahn’s intention to badmouth battery vehicles and calculate badly!

    From 2020, OEMs in the EU (and Norway) will have to comply with a fleet consumption of 95 g CO2 per km and vehicle. Vehicles with electric drives are accepted as compensation. The penalties for fleet consumption are €95 per gram of CO2 and vehicle if the limit is exceeded.

    This isn’t about fun. Tesla has recognized the value of its CO2 certificates and forms an EU vehicle pool with FCA.

    “Analyst: Tesla can finance German Gigafactory with CO2 revenue alone”
    ( )
    “Auto-Portal: CO2 deal with Tesla saved FCA brands Alfa Romeo and Maserati”
    ( https://teslamag.DE / News / Auto-Portal-Tesla-CO2-Deal-Settet-Alfa-Romeo-and-Maserati-28381)

    In 2030 a maximum of 59 g CO2 / km must be observed!

    With these reports, Thomas Spahn and the DW, Deutsche Wave, the German Automotive Industry harms, by being held by customers from the purchase of a BEV.

  3. Subject to eco flow for electric cars:

    From page 19 of the
    “Funding Directive Loading infrastructure for electric vehicles
    in Germany
    from 13. February 2017
    with change of 28. June 2017 “
    (https: // http://www.bmvi.DE / SharedDocs / DE / System / G / Consolidated-Foermere Directive-LIS-29-06-2017.pdf?__BLOB = PublicationFile)
    Citing point:

    “6.3 Use of electricity from renewable energies
    The prerequisite for the donation for charging infrastructure is that the charging process
    Required electricity from renewable energies or on-site self-generated regenerative electricity (Z.B. electricity from photovoltaic systems). The former must be proven by means of a certified green electricity supply contract, for which corresponding
    Guarantees of origin according to Section 5 number 20 of the Renewable Energy Sources Act can be canceled at the Register of Guarantees of Origin of the Federal Environment Agency.”.

    From this follows for the fans of the coal engine:
    If you don’t care about the certification of your electricity, you have to take what’s left. If than for 47.700.000 BEV around 100 TWh/a are needed as green electricity, then the remaining around 400 TWh/a have to share the original CO2 emissions (2019 with 401 g CO2/kWh) among themselves. And 401 CO2/kWh * 500 TWh/a / 400 TWh/a results in 501.25 g CO2/kWh.

    The HWunsinn had already recognized this and, because of the result, refused the admissibility of the calculation method.

    Have fun.


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