adac meyer.automotiveIT

ADAC President Meyer said natural gas is a strong alternative to electricity for powering cars (Photo: ADAC)

The head of Germany's largest automobile club, the ADAC, said connected cars will shortly be a reality on German and European roads, but electrification of vehicles is still a work in progress.

"The networked future has long since started," said ADAC President Peter Meyer. "What's needed now is democratization, which means inexpensive access to these offerings for the great mass of car drivers and no restrictions for those offering the services."

Meyer said at an ADAC conference in Berlin last week that connectivity will make cars safer and reduce their environmental impact. But he expressed concern that more available data in the car would lead to greater driver distraction and that information transmitted by cars would unduly invade people's privacy.

"For example, people's driving habits shouldn't be monitored and these data shouldn't be given to third parties such as car insurance companies," Meyer said.

The ADAC president said his organization, which has more than 18 million members,  continues to oppose subsidies for electric cars, which have been slow in gaining market share. Instead, he said, government incentives should go into more research on how to incorporate electric vehicles into the mobility and energy landscape.

"Electric cars still are much too expensive and the batteries don't have the range needed," Meyer said. Moreover, proper business models for a charging infrastructure haven't been developed and the connection between an EV's CO2 emissions and the emissions produced in generating electricity haven't been properly explained, he said.

"That's why electric vehicles needs to be part of the overall change in energy policy," Meyer said. He added that the ADAC would like to see more interest in natural gas powered vehicles, which provide a strong alternative to traditionally powered cars.