In conversation with Christine Eisenmann: The transport researcher is heading the ‘Transforming Automobility’ group at the DLR

28. August 2019

In conversation with Christine Eisenmann

The transport researcher is heading the ‘Transforming Automobility’ group at the DLR

Christine Eisenmann, DLR © WISTA Management GmbH

Christine Eisenmann in front of her new office in Rudower Chaussee 7 © WISTA Management GmbH

The average German is on the road for 80 minutes a day. Transport researcher Christine Eisenmann takes her bike to work, which takes her to and around the Technology Park Adlershof without having to deal with traffic. Living so close to her workplace is a luxury. Indeed, there have been other times: growing up in a tiny village in Bavaria, she had to get a driver’s licence to stay mobile as soon as she turned eighteen. Many people still depend on cars, also in less rural areas. Which is why she he is not a fan of car-bashing. As head of the ‘Transforming Automobility’ group at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Eisenmann looks at new concepts and technologies for motorised transport and their effects. This includes analysing the acceptance of electromobility, for example, or self-driving cars and their effects on people and the environment. In the following interview, Christine Eisenmann gives us some insight on these issues and why she spends a lot of time in trains.


Adlershof Journal: Do you travel often?

Christine Eisenmann: Yes, I travel a lot for my job well as in my spare time. I go on about two to three business trips every month, most of them in Germany. I commute to Karlsruhe on weekends and my days off because my husband still lives there.

What is your preferred means of transportation?

I mostly take the train when I travel in Germany and only use the plane internationally. I most often take my bike work, which I also use to get around Berlin in addition to public transport.

Do you own a car?

Yes, but that’s in Karlsruhe because my husband uses it for his commute.

Is car sharing an option for you?

I have thought about it. I haven’t really missed the car in Berlin and, in Karlsruhe, the car sharing services didn’t really fit our needs.

How is the transport behaviour of Germans changing?

We examine that by using large-scale mobility surveys such as MiD (Mobilität in Deutschland) 2017, which surveys more than 300,000 people. We are seeing some changes, but these are seeds that have just been planted. There are increasing levels of traffic in cities attributable to bikes, especially young people use cars much less than those in rural regions, and electromobility is slowly becoming more widespread – albeit on a low level. The car was and is the most important means of transportation in Germany. Every year, the total number of cars in this country grows by half a million.

Despite the federal government’s various funding programmes, the share of cars that are electric is only 0.13 percent. Why is that?

One reason is that many private households buy used cars instead of new cars. There aren’t that many used electric cars out there yet. There is a lack of variety in electric car models and the expansion of the recharging infrastructure is only just starting to take off. As of this year, there have been some special write-downs and tax privileges for electric company cars, which will further boost sales.

Which groups of people see the largest changes in mobility?

Elderly persons and young people. With the former, we’re seeing retroactive motorisation and a much higher number of motorised seniors. Young people today are displaying multimodal transport behaviour, which means they use diverse means of transportation. City dwellers own less and less cars. However, tourism using air travel has increased in this group.

How do we reach a more rapid change in mobility?

The more attractive it is to use trains, busses, car sharing, and a comprehensive bicycle infrastructure, the more people will be willing to change their transport behaviour. This can also include better parking management and redesignating lesser used road lanes as bike lanes. It is up to policymakers to make the necessary adjustments. This also includes issues like flexible work hours and homeworking.

What do you find intriguing about transport research?

The diversity. Transport research is a mix of quantitative data and questions that are relevant to everyone. Back at school, I was intrigued by both mathematics and physics but also economic and social science issues.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to meet friends and play table-top games. I also like to do yoga. Of course, Berlin’s art and culture scene is just amazing.


Interview by Sylvia Nitschke for Adlershof Journal

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