Cars

E-cars in Zorneding: “The goal is that Putin doesn’t get a cent anymore” – Ebersberg

“Only motor vehicles with petrol and diesel fuel are permitted in these garages.” That’s what it says on the small yellow metal sign that is screwed to the ceiling of this Zornedingen underground car park. However, if Michael Lenz has his way, a large number of cars without conventional combustion engines will soon be parked there. The 69-year-old has been fighting for an electrical infrastructure in the underground car park of his homeowners’ community for around three years. For a long time it looked as if the project was doomed to fail, but now the first vehicles are to be supplied with electricity soon.

The underground garage at Zornedinger Herzogplatz offers a total of 93 parking spaces – 93 times the opportunity to operate a car emission-free. The first vehicles are to be plugged into the wall boxes at the end of August this year. Then Michael Lenz has reached his goal, for which he had to fight hard before. “I went from door to door and rang the bell,” recalls the former electrical engineer, who worked in the development of chips for electric cars, among other things. In Zorneding, however, he bit his teeth out first. Lenz recalls that some owners had concerns. Above all, the fire protection in the underground car park worried many people – fears that Lenz tried to alleviate in numerous discussions.

Initially without success, however, because at the first owners’ meeting the project failed due to a passage in the Home Ownership Act (WEG) that was still in force at the time. According to the old text of the law, anyone who lives in a rented or condominium apartment and wants to install a charging station still needed the consent of the landlord or the community of owners – from everyone involved without exception. Michael Lenz, however, did not want to give up – and received help from several quarters, some of which was unexpected.

The municipality of Zorneding has recently been promoting the construction of e-charging stations.

(Photo: Christian Endt)

First there is the municipality of Zorneding, which decided last year to subsidize every potential electric charging station with 100 euros – with basic costs of around 500 euros per parking space, this is a very powerful argument, as Lenz found out. “I told people, see it as an increase in value. It’s money well invested,” said the 69-year-old. In fact, Lenz’s project is designed in such a way that not everyone has to buy the complete charging system straight away. Initially, Zornedinger explains, it’s just a matter of fundamentally upgrading the underground car park. Anyone who later buys an e-car can also connect their parking space to the existing network and charge their vehicle for around 2,000 euros. “This is also an investment in real estate,” says Lenz.

Michael Lenz plays current world events into the cards

But current world events also suited the inventor, or as Lenz puts it: “Putin is helping us now.” The 69-year-old alludes to the fact that the war in Ukraine has caused many people to rethink fossil fuels. For Lenz himself, who is also converting his house to be CO2-neutral, it has long been clear: “My goal is that Putin doesn’t get a cent from me.”

Now, however, there is still the matter with the WEG – but here, too, Zornedinger was lucky to a certain extent. While he had to temporarily put his project on hold due to Corona because owners’ meetings were no longer possible, politicians implemented the change in the legal text that had been announced for a long time. Now it says that a joint assumption of costs will come into force if two thirds of the votes cast by the community of owners and more than half of all co-ownership shares vote for the application for a private charging infrastructure. A few cancellations could no longer stop the project.

Electromobility: The individual parking spaces are supplied via a central power line on the ceiling

The individual parking spaces are supplied via a central power line on the ceiling

(Photo: Christian Endt)

With the support of the Zorneding Energy Forum and the local climate protection manager Elisabeth Buchmann, Lenz finally managed to convince the necessary majority of his neighbors of his idea. This provides for a so-called LIS100 charging system in the underground car park, with which all parking spaces can be connected via a central supply line. Finally, “power management” distributes the electricity to the individual wall boxes. However, no one need worry that the network will collapse at Herzogplatz, as Lenz explains: “The aim is not for the cars to be fully charged, but for it to be enough for the next day.” This is ensured by the eleven kilowatt connections, which are activated one after the other – not all vehicles in the garage are refueled at the same time, but the power supply is regulated by a time switch. But if you need juice quickly, there is always the option of using a chip to “push yourself in line”, as Lenz says.

In any case, the 69-year-old is convinced of his concept, also with regard to the car market of the future. Zornedinger says he traveled a lot in China as a consultant. From there, the market will be flooded with cheap e-cars in the near future. The former electrical engineer, on the other hand, predicts a rather bleak future for German car manufacturers. The big brands would still rely too much on their premium models with combustion engines, with which you naturally earn more money than with an electric car. “You’re selling people something unique that you don’t even need,” says Lenz, who instead sees the future of mobility in smaller electric vehicles.

Electromobility: When this sign was put up, electrically powered vehicles were still science fiction.

When this sign was put up, electrically powered vehicles were still science fiction.

(Photo: Christian Endt)

In the future, such could also be in the Zornedinger underground car park under the Herzogplatz. Seven of the 93 parking spaces will be fully equipped right from the start, the rest now at least have the opportunity to do so. This is an important first step for Michael Lenz, but he is not satisfied with it. In order to share his experience and knowledge with other homeowners’ associations, the 69-year-old offers free advice on installing a charging infrastructure and even takes care of the cost calculations if necessary. He already has around 20 underground car parks on his list where he sees potential – and the interest of the owners is definitely there.

The own garage in Zorneding should also serve as a display object in the future. By then at the latest, the small metal sign that excludes all vehicles without a combustion engine should finally be taken down. Incidentally, this relic from the 80s does not refer to electric cars, but to those that run on LPG. At the time, people would have thought it was science fiction that vehicles would be refueled here underground using a socket.

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