Matthias Speicher

«Back then, there were a series of hurdles that I’m sure many are familiar with. I was in rented accommodation, and there was no charging infrastructure where I lived. Installing a wall box myself would have been too expensive due to the technology available in the building.»

Matthias Speicher

Matthias Speicher, Product Owner Digital Business Models for the AMAG Group

Matthias, you’re switching from a petrol car to an electric one. Why right now?

When I handed back the company car from my former employer four years ago and went self-employed, I bought a petrol car. It made sense at the time – good value, good features and okay consumption. Back in 2017, there were too many hurdles for an electric car for me, but now the time is right.


And which one have you chosen?

The Audi Q4 e-tron. I like the way it looks, it has a decent range and lots of technical details I’m looking forward to. The ŠKODA ENYAQ was also interesting, but what swayed me was an in-house offer for employees to drive the Audi for 12 months at a fixed price. This is an ideal way for me to find out if electric mobility is right for me in everyday driving.


You’ve been thinking about switching to an electric car since 2017. Why now?

Back then, there were a series of hurdles that I’m sure many are familiar with. I was in rented accommodation, and there was no charging infrastructure where I lived. Installing a wall box myself would have been too expensive due to the technology available in the building. I didn’t manage to find a solution to this with my landlord, and in any case the problem with electricity billing came on top of this, as it wouldn’t have been possible to record my consumption on my meter.


Were there any other reasons?

Yes. There was no public charging facility in my village, and talking to the local council didn’t help. In addition to this, the cost of buying an electric car was still quite high at the time, and the choice of models was still pretty limited. Now, in 2021, things look very different. The choice of electric cars is much bigger, and the better understanding of electric mobility in general has removed some of the hurdles. In 2022, we’ll be moving into a new apartment we’ve bought, with a complete charging infrastructure in the building – including charging management and billing. But I think the issue of charging as a tenant will continue to be a major challenge in 2021.


What do you find most fascinating about electric mobility?

Basically, I find it fascinating that we’re only just starting to really get going with this, 100 years after the first highlight. After all, electric mobility is anything but new. I’m also looking forward to seeing the improvements and further developments in battery technologies. The lithium-ion battery is definitely also just an in-between step. I also like the many facets of e-mobility – it’s not just about battery-powered cars.


What about the driving experience?

There’s no question that the electric motor performs extremely well when accelerating. On top of this come the lower noise emissions, at least at lower speeds. The tyre rolling noise at higher speeds will hopefully be reduced by tyre manufacturers. Of course I’m also looking forward to one-pedal driving, which means less particulate brake dust.


Are you concerned about the electricity supply situation?

There’s no question that fossil fuels are a finite resource, while renewable energies are almost unlimited. We already have the technologies to use them, and are getting better and better. Research in the field of nuclear fusion also plays a role here, and this interests me a great deal. It’s not the amount of energy that’s the problem, but the logistics and the distribution of this energy. I mean the challenges related to the fact that renewable energies from wind and sun in particular are not always available when we need them. And not always where we need them. I’m sure we’ll find a solution to this. There are already some good approaches, ideas and existing solutions. Until industry is in a position to produce hydrogen and green methanol in an energy-efficient way, we can focus on conversion into potential energy, through reservoirs for example. The overall result will be a more sustainable cycle. At the same time, we’re exploring new technologies and creating entire new industries. An extremely exciting time – and everyone can play their part.


Do you also anticipate certain difficulties as the driver of an electric car?

Yes of course – saying anything else just wouldn’t be the truth. What worries me is my impatience when I need to do a “quick” charge when I’m out and about. Or I think about faulty charging stations that might stop me in my tracks. In this case I wouldn’t have the option of walking to the nearest petrol station with a petrol can. But these are probably also slightly irrational concerns about change, and about new things. I’m definitely not looking forward to the fact that there are charging stations from various providers, which will mean using a different card to identify yourself each time. This could be simpler.


What about your charging situation?

Our building still has no charging infrastructure, and not a single electric car. There is still no public charging facility in the village either, but the landlord is now okay with finding a simple and affordable temporary solution. And in any case, from 2022 I’ll be able to charge conveniently at my own parking space at our own building. I can also charge at work in Cham, but I do spend a lot of time working from home. And driving 40 kilometres to work and back just to charge is not a sensible option, nor is it in the interest of the environment.


Doesn’t the range issue give you a headache?

No, not at all. Let’s be honest, we rarely travel over 100 kilometres in a day, and Switzerland isn’t exactly famous for its endless, dead straight highways! In addition, I’ve taken an honest and objective look at my driving over the last four years and saw that I didn’t even empty the full tank of my diesel car (one tank is enough for about 1000 kilometres) in one trip. We drove this car a few times in Europe on holiday before the coronavirus pandemic, and none of the distances were further than we would have managed with an electric car. And the breaks we took anyway would have been enough for charging.


So you don’t see any problems for everyday driving?

I think it’s important not to base your assessment on a single exception – like that one trip to Sicily when you drove non-stop. Otherwise I’d also have to buy a van because of that one time I bought a load of timber from the DIY store. And I’d always have to take an umbrella with me on a walk, because I once ended up getting wet a few years ago. It’s important to be fair and honest with yourself, basing your approach on realistic everyday behaviour and not on a hypothetical possibility. It can also be seen as an advantage that an electric car “only” does 300 to 500 kilometres at a time, as this forces us to take decent breaks on longer trips. This gives us time to relax properly, and makes sure we can drive more safely when we are on the road. At the end of the day, the hour you spent charging your car won’t make such a difference to your arrival time, but it will mean you get to recharge your own batteries at the same time. And that can’t be a bad thing. 


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