Comparing urban electric mobility politics: Different answers to the challenge of intermodality in Berlin and Paris

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Cracow (2012)


Metropolitain areas are a „laboratory“ in which the electric car can be tested as an answer to various challenges of transport politics. To a different degree, cities suffer from environmental problems such as congestion, pollution due to private cars, and lacking intelligent connections to the public transport system (intermodality). In addition to the environmental constraint, patterns of social and spatial mobility are changing: less young people own cars for social status reasons, but instead mobility has become an indispensable good, whichever means of transport is used (Bratzel 2011). On this background, many regional authorities have implemented testing projects in which electric cars are rented or shared as a „public automobile“ (Canzler/Knie 2011).
Characterised by specific governmental and transport structures, urban regions are a space to create and implement sustainable transport visions, to test market opportunities and business models under „real conditions“, to put into reality and evaluate new patterns of mobility demand and shape innovative mobility practices following „lead users“. Finally, regional authorities become have an important interlocutor of European politics and a stakeholder in implementing sustainable transport goals (see for example „green e-motion“, an EU funded EV testing project).
Paris and Berlin, two European metropolitain areas disposing of very different transport infrastructures, have implemented two extensive electric mobility projects (Autolib' and BeMobility). In this paper we explore how the two cities put into practice an „ecological-economical compromise“, that has emerged in the automotive industry and especially post-crisis policy making. In a „most different cases comparison“ based on document analysis and expert interviews, this explorative field study answers the following questions:
– Which major conflicts emerged during the implementation of the projects ?
– How is „demand for mobility“ being taken into account, and shaped through the project definition ?
– Which vision of sustainable transport do actors pursue?
– What are opportunities and constraints of the two projects ?

Whereas in Berlin, BeMobility project represents the interests of mobility research and a consortiums of industrial stakeholders that implement a model of intermodal transport, Paris has opted for a „one-size-fits-all“ passenger car-based system. Public authorities in both cases encouraged the projects through EV-based support schemes. Taking into account market contexts and decision making structures, both projects represent a public-private co-construction of innovative intermodal services. Contrasting the making of, objectives and context of both projects, meeting mobility demand emerges as a main criterion making this co-production successful in the long-term.

Copyright© Gerpisa
Concéption Tommaso Pardi
Administration Géry Deffontaines

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