Street scooter: Gunther Schuh is developing an electric car

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An Aachen professor is driving the e-car revolution

Street scooter: Gunther Schuh is developing an electric car-electric

The next project. Gunther Schuh is in the chassis of the e.Go Life

Source: Marcus Simaitis

The Post already uses his electric van, now Gunther Schuh is building an affordable electric car for the city, the cheapest on the market. He is anything but an eco-romantic

M.he takes a quick step towards the prototype. Caresses the body, feels the paint, inspects the gaps. Gunther Schuh nods with satisfaction. The professor for production systems and managing director of e.Go Mobile AG succeeds in something that the German automotive industry has missed for years.

He produces electric cars, which also sell. And that for the second time: first the street scooter, a delivery van that the post office in the delivery service, and now the e.Go, an electric vehicle for city traffic.

His little city car should be more beautiful, more useful and better than anything that the competition has to offer up to now – and above all cheaper. "The fact that e-mobility is not making headway in Germany," says Gunther Schuh, "is not due to the technology, but rather to the costs." Car buyers would rather accept a limited range than a high price.

At around 16,000 euros, his four-seater will be the cheapest electric car on the market – minus 4,000 euros for the environmental bonus.

A company to show that it works

It is thanks to the enthusiasm of the Cologne-born man that he became a car maker. At 59 years of age, he is bursting with energy, works 80 hours a week and looks as fit as a freshly charged battery in the evenings.

Even as a student, he came to Aachen with hybrid vehicles in touch, drove a converted VW Bulli. He was enthusiastic about the type of drive, but it was immature. "Back then we put the technology in a drawer because we said: The hybrid is the combination of the disadvantages of two drive concepts."

Schuh is doing his doctorate at RWTH, He founded a consulting company and at the age of 34 became professor for business production management at the University of St. Gallen. In 2001 he returned to Aachen, doing research in the field of complexity and modular systems. A task that he enjoys, but does not keep him busy. Schuh wants to show that industrial production in high-wage countries like Germany is still justified.

Together with his colleague Achim Kampker and other partners, he founded Streetscooter Research GmbH in 2010 and developed an electric delivery van for short-haul traffic. In 18 months, the engineers will build a prototype that they will use at the IAA exhibit.

Street scooter: Gunther Schuh is developing an electric car-schuh

Swiss Post relies on the electric street scooter. The company has now taken over the manufacturer of the van

Source: picture alliance / Bernd von Jut

Nothing came from the big manufacturers

A series model is created from this in a very short time. The Streetscooter is a small van without any frills, whose short range is completely sufficient for daily parcel delivery. This is well received at Swiss Post, which first buys the vehicles and then the entire company and all of its employees.

Except for Gunther Schuh, who plans to take a step back and only take care of his chair. And about his wife and two children. “I was overworked from selling and just wanted to do my normal job for a year,” he says.

The resolution lasts for two weeks, then he has a new idea: “It was clear to me for a long time that we needed electric cars for inner cities,” he says. Without them, the major manufacturers would not be able to reduce the CO2 emissions of their vehicle fleets to 95 grams per kilometer by 2020, as required by law. "I thought to myself, I have to give a new impulse."

After the success of the street scooter, he initially assumes that there will be little time left for the introduction of an electric city car before the established manufacturers enter the market. But nothing comes from them.

Completely optimized for a low price

Schuh begins with the conception of a new electric vehicle and founds e.Go Mobile AG with partners. In order to achieve the low price, which he believes to be crucial for success, he first thinks about production and only then about the vehicle.

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“The production technicians are almost always asked at the end,” he says. “We just turned the tables, left out the designers and developed them ourselves.” Instead of his own designs, his company uses standard products from major suppliers such as Hella and Bosch or ZF. The advantage: zero development expenses and low purchasing costs thanks to high quantities. The total costs for the development are reduced to around 30 million euros – an established manufacturer would have invested 500 million euros for this.

However, Schuh’s approach is not to provide a one-size-fits-all solution. He only sees affordable electromobility on shorter journeys. His city car can travel between 100 and 150 kilometers on one battery charge, which is sufficient for everyday use. “In the city we have to drive emission-free,” he says. "This is absolutely necessary because exhaust gases are harmful to health."

On longer journeys, he is more likely to use plug-in hybrids or fuel cell cars than from purely battery-powered vehicles with a long range. “The batteries are too expensive for that. They are also not significantly cheaper, so large batteries are not profitable. "

Street scooter: Gunther Schuh is developing an electric car-scooter

The e.Go Life was developed with production technology in mind. A designer only came into play at the very end

Source: e.Go Mobile AG

Standard components help save

Schuh’s cell phone rings, the number is withheld. Armin Laschet It’s up to the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia and an old friend. Schuh leaves the room, comes back after twenty minutes, politely apologizes. “I can’t get rid of my Prime Minister.” He picks up the thread again and comes to the first e.Go model.

“A car has to be beautiful, also a sensible one, otherwise nobody will buy it,” says the professor. After 42 design changes, the 3.35 meter long e.Go Life is ready, and only at the very end does an Italian designer lend a hand. The 820 kilo mobile will be on the CeBIT presented, orders have been coming in since, between 15 and 20 a day. And that, although there is still no sales, let alone cars to test drive.

His company currently has 140 employees and 70 part-time employees, the average age is 31 years. He rattles off the numbers by heart. Production is to begin next year in one of four planned halls in Aachen.

This is where the aluminum frame for the e.Go Life is built, the thermoplastic cover is installed and the two electric drives are attached to the rear axle. The motors come from Bosch, the battery from BMZ from Baden-Wurttemberg. The cars will later be serviced in Bosch’s car service stations, and the company will also organize the spare parts warehouse and logistics.

Street scooter: Gunther Schuh is developing an electric car-developing

Made afloat: the e.Go Life from behind

Source: e.Go Mobile AG

Up to 100,000 vehicles annually

Production is located on the former Philips site in Rothe Erde, where TV tubes used to be made. The first 1,800 cars are to be assembled there by the end of 2018, and production capacity is to be expanded to 100,000 vehicles by 2022.

In addition to the city runabout, the engineers are planning the minibus Mover, which is due to come in 2019, and a slightly larger compact car, the Booster. In ten years, e.Go Mobile AG should have a fleet of five to six vehicles and an annual turnover of five billion euros.

"We will be a particularly logical and cooperative company," says Gunther Schuh. No wonder that many car bosses want to talk to him right now.

In his opinion, however, combustion engines will still be around 30 years from now – or at least until an ecologically and economically justifiable replacement solution has been found, for example with fuels made from renewable raw materials. The internal combustion engine is no longer supposed to be found in the city.

The electric pioneer drives a Porsche privately

Gunther Schuh put his first car, an NSU 1200 C, on the roof after a rapid drive. At the age of 34 he bought his first Porsche 911. He stayed true to the brand. Until recently he drove a 911 Carrera 4S, then he switched to a Panamera plug-in hybrid. He covers long distances in a small plane.

The e.Go Life will be added soon. “This is a Porsche killer,” he says. "With that you can leave every 911 at the traffic light, even if only for the first few meters."

Although the German auto industry is lagging behind in terms of electromobility, Schuh is certain that it will soon catch up. The fuel cell may be at the end of the tunnel. The day after tomorrow it will be affordable. "If hydrogen can then be produced ecologically, we have a really cool solution ready." Of course, he already has a few ideas.

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14 thoughts on “Street scooter: Gunther Schuh is developing an electric car”

  1. The success proves him right. Ultimately, it is only the implementation that counts. Steve Jobs was also partially mocked when he launched the iPhone.

    Reply
  2. Wherever you are, the art of engineering?
    Putting together finished parts to form a car structure? I know tinkering from childhood. If he had used his or the other’s knowledge to improve drive and efficiency, it would be innovative engineering. And the security? Was it deliberately kept secret? Why do car manufacturers need so much time and money? But not only for the design, which, according to good designers, follows function. Just because it worked with the PostBus, where the employer puts the car and no manufacturer was ready to tackle the project due to the number of units? And the price? Oh well. For a thermoplastic cover? Task for the professor: A safe e-mobile, optionally for 2 and 4 people or 2 people with loading space, for a maximum of 10,000 €!

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  3. With Deutsche Post as a customer, Schuh has proven that his concept has worked. Other customers, such as care services, will be interested in the city car. They require small ranges, are (almost) only on the move in the city and are less demanding in terms of design.
    Some of the previous comments conclude that there is established motor vehicle consumption behavior, as the car companies like to have. But urban individual mobility is in a process of change. Property becomes less important, performance and design will have to meet different demands. Car sharing is just the beginning. It is already evident that no one needs thick boxes.

    In addition, many cities will change their traffic concepts. Copenhagen and Amsterdam have already taken recognizable directions with the realization that fewer cars mean a higher quality of life. This particularly applies to stationary traffic. If you don’t have your own parking space or special permit, you have to park your car at a high price, or switch to a sharing system right away.

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  4. With this design, the exciting project should have little chance. It is unbelievable to see that a car manufacturer tips over the most important development factor, which has to be at the beginning, as a “icing” at the end: the design. But it defines usability and social compatibility and sells the car. Quote: "… an Italian designer lends a hand only at the very end." The company has not understood the importance of technical design and will therefore not be able to be scaled. The proportions of the front and back of the e.GO are not right, it looks like a quark roll with wheels. Swiss Post’s e-scooter looks like a third world vehicle. The established manufacturers don’t get much on the chain electrically either. One has to worry about our core industry.

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  5. It’s up to everyone to judge the design, but I think the form follows fuktion approach is really great. In addition, with a second car and for those who have to get by on little money, the price-performance ratio is particularly important. The design is a minor matter. All that remains is the problem of the shop for street parkers. I wish the company every success.

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  6. What bothers me about the story is the amalgamation of private business management and salary as a professor (probably C4). Every other company founder has to earn a living and is not funded by the state. Every other company boss has to recruit employees and pay for work and cannot fall back on the free pool of students. In addition, the teaching will probably be neglected or where does the time for a full-time professorship come from? In my opinion, professors ‘involvement in the private sector should be prevented, as should politicians’ supervisory board mandates.

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  7. I know Mr. Schuh from RWTH Aachen University. Sometimes he answered emails at 4 a.m. and was fit as a gym shoe in the classroom at 8 a.m. I have no idea how he does it, but the sentence from the article is correct:
    "At 59 years of age, he is bursting with energy, works 80 hours a week and looks as fit as a freshly charged battery in the evenings."

    Reply
  8. We drive in the short distance range (<15km) a Smart CDI with 3l approval. Whether it would really benefit the environment to dispose of this fully functional car and instead buy a rolling battery that has to be plugged in every other evening?
    And it gets really interesting when these e-cars need a gasoline or diesel powered auxiliary heater, which then generates 5KW of heat and whose exhaust gases are completely unfiltered, i.e. emitted into the environment with full CO content. Who takes a close look at the entire ecological balance of such vehicles??

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  9. The Smart is very economical, but only because it has a bad emissions standard and removes a lot of dirt from the back.
    Today he would need a particle filter and urea injection, so that the low consumption would no longer be achievable and such a diesel is not suitable for short journeys either, as the particle filter cannot regenerate.
    No electric car has additional heating that requires petrol or diesel. Why is there enough electricity and nowadays you heat a single-family house with 5 kW but not a car?.

    Nevertheless, it can make sense to operate your Smart until it dies, just maybe not in cities that are highly polluted.
    Reply
  10. Electric cars and articles that stink of their own praise. Who among these gentlemen has ever thought about how the many electric cars get their charging current? Or should the car driver fight for the few charging points? And then the electricity is rationed because mom and dad have to drive to work in the morning. Lights off at 6 p.m., no more television and the iphon not yet charged.
    All problems that are probably there, but are pushed into the far distance. And then the Greens also want to close coal-fired power plants. Where should all the electricity come from??

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  11. The expansion of wind power is e.g. capped at 2.8 gw for next year. As of today, German manufacturers alone can produce systems that deliver more than 5gw per year (not one delivers 5gw, but the wcas manufactured in one year). Why do we need such a cap? Above all: new wind farms no longer require funding, they are already so profitable. The current problem: certain federal states are trying to build lines against it

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  12. I can only hope he succeeds.
    I bought two e-bikes for myself and my wife because they keep me mobile for the old days and don’t put too much strain on our lousy pension.

    Reply

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