Electric Mobility Governance in Germany and Lessons for Brazil

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, São Paulo (2018)


Electric Mobility, Governance


Several actors, in different countries, are taking part in a process that is shaping the transition to electromobility. The way different actors and stakeholders join efforts to make up arrangements, to fulfill roles and receive empowerment, varies significantly. Actors from industry, government (local and national) and academy end up having more or less influence, depending on how the existing coordinating and directing instruments are provided and articulated.
Many relevant issues points to the necessity of a governance of the mobility transitions. Mobility transitions are difficult as such process might favor some actors over others. Besides, different course of action might be chosen, not only regarding electric vehicles, but also other possibilities such as autonomous vehicles, shared mobility, smart mobility. Any chosen path by a region or country will rely upon resources provisioning, technology and product development and user behavior reshaping. Global and local agendas alignment might also influence the transition. In the policy arena, different policies (energy, urban, transport, environment) should converge to the main goals, that often is not clear. It might be also important to achieve a good balance between long and short term goals. As so, key ingredient are coherence and the development of inclusive policies. (ITF, 2017)
The governance concept goes beyond politics, insofar as it refers to the coordination needed to reach certain goals - goals that depend on the articulation of social initiatives that are carried out both inside and outside the policy instruments (HILLMAN et al. , 2011). It is important, when undertaking a study on governance, to look at the institutional framework of countries and their actors in order to recognize the multiplicity of interests and the various fields of dispute. This avoids the simplistic view that "sees" policy-making from a consensual introduction of top-down elements that casually articulate for the development of transitions towards sustainability. The transition to electric mobility is part of a more broad transition to sustainability. As so, it is a multifaceted social challenge, involving technological, political and behavioral changes, precisely at the intersection of production systems and energy use systems (Nilsson; NYKVIST, 2016).
Germany stands out when it comes to the development of a governance arrangement that has facilitated the electromobility transition. On the other hand, other countries, such as Brazil, where no indigenous OEM exists, have not triggered a coordinated transition process, nor even to develop new competencies. The purpose of this study is to investigate what governance lessons are there for Brazil, when examining the German transition to electric mobility.
According to Loorbach (2010), in a long-term sustainable development, prescriptive models of governance must consider that all social actors exert influence and thus give direction to social change, being aware of opportunities, as well as limitations and of the possibilities of exercising this action of directing. Through the capacity of agency and interaction in networks, society is shaped to what we refer to conceptually as "governance".
On the basis of studies on governance such as Nilsson, Hillman e Magnusson (2012); Nilsson e Nykvist (2016), this study adopted the following dimensions of study:
• “What is governed?”: defines the object of governance, that is, the technological artifact that gives material meaning to the new economic segment. Therefore, what is governed refers to the introduction and diffusion of VEs (electric vehicle battery, hybrid electric vehicle, hybrid electric vehicle plug-in).
• “Who governs?”: identifies and classifies the social actors that sustain and conduct the initiatives to foster EVs; the social actors that belong to the institutional structure of government (ministries, development agencies, research institutes, public banks, state enterprises, etc.); and actors that are at the margin of the governmental structure, such as the private companies of diverse origins (automobile, electro-electronics, telecommunications, energy and others); associations of workers or employers; educational institutions (universities); non-governmental organizations; the collectives; social movements; traditional or peripheral communities; political parties and other organizations.
• “How to govern?”: identifies and characterizes the instruments created by the actors to conduct, interact and develop actions in favor of electromobility. Thus, governance instruments are mapped out: public policies and public-private initiatives, which may or may not participate in the definition and implementation of these policies, but also provide coherence or support some kind of effort towards the development of electromobility.
These three elements are brought together in order to investigate Germany´s efforts to transition to electromobility. Through this lens, main processes, actions, and created governance are examined, since 2008. A broad set of publications have been examined, as well as some interviews have taken place during a technical visit organized by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
In the case of Brazil, possible missing corresponding elements are hypothesized, for future investigation.
Firstly, the Germany case analysis shows how the country has come to achieve a shared future vision towards electric vehicles, defined a national strategy and plan. Following that, important governance spaces have been created, allowing academy, government and industry to contribute and take part in the decision process. Upon that, specific policy and private instruments have been verified, implemented and evaluated. The analysis allows us to understand which and how policy instruments have been created, the level of involvement of public and private actors along the process, as well in its implementation. Main actors and their roles have been identified. A systemic approach and transforming value chain has been taking into consideration to develop. A good articulation between different levels of governance (national, state or municipal) has also been verified. Finally, it makes it possible to punctuate the mechanisms of governance, which have been relevant to promote achievement of aspired results.
Germany’s course of action towards mobility started relatively late compared to other countries which are also among major world car producers. Nevertheless, it differentiates itself on how it has developed a way to achieve certain consensus in order to quickly react and produce good results in terms of electric vehicles diffusion, technology development and production. Undoubtedly, governance actions taken have contributed to its achievement.
When confronting German´s case results to the Brazilian course of main actions regarding electric vehicles, it allowed us to make considerations on what could be missing in Brazil or what could now be done to enhance such transition process. It highlighted the importance to further examine if a common vision to sustainable mobility is in place, also how policy instruments have been articulated and sustained by involved actors, so far. These issues point to the necessity to better understand electric vehicle transition governance elements in Brazil.
Brazilian government is currently redefining its automotive industry policy. The findings of this analysis indicates interested actors should first enhance governance capabilities, in order to create better conditions to establish necessary and adequate debate spaces, decision processes, and institutions restructuring or creation.
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