Merkel in fresh push for nationwide e-car charging network

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel stands next to an electric vehicle during her visit to a solar powered metro station at Dwarka in New Delhi, India, November 2, 2019. (Reuters)
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks next to an electric vehicle during her visit to a solar powered metro station at Dwarka in New Delhi, India, November 2, 2019. (Reuters)
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with an official during her visit to a solar powered metro station at Dwarka in New Delhi, India, November 2, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 03 November 2019

Merkel in fresh push for nationwide e-car charging network

  • Merkel said the rapid expansion of easy-to-use charging stations was necessary to give drivers the "confidence"
  • Merkel’s government set itself the ambitious goal of increasing the number of charging stations to a million

FRANKFURT: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday said her government was stepping up efforts to roll out a vast network of electric car charging points in a bid to encourage drivers to make the switch and help the country meet its climate targets.
In her weekly podcast, Merkel said the rapid expansion of reliable, easy-to-use charging stations across Germany was necessary to give drivers “the confidence to buy an e-car.”
“That’s why we want to create one million charging points by 2030, and the industry will participate in this too,” she said.
The comments came on the eve of a major meeting between car industry bosses and government ministries in Berlin.
In September, Merkel’s government set itself the ambitious goal of increasing the number of charging stations to a million as part of a package of measures to reduce Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.
The country currently has just 21,000 public car charging points.
The government’s “climate package” also wants to see seven to 10 million zero-emission electric cars on the roads by 2030, up from around 220,000 last August.
But to achieve that, the transport ministry says drivers first need to overcome “range anxiety” — the fear of running out of juice in between charging points.
According to documents seen by AFP, the ministry will at Monday’s meeting lay out a plan that prioritizes installing battery-charging stations at supermarkets and petrol stations, and making it easier for building owners to set up charging points in underground parks.
The pivot to cleaner cars has been given fresh urgency as automakers face tough new EU limits on carbon dioxide emissions, while Berlin has come under pressure to take stronger climate action after falling short of its own 2020 targets for curbing greenhouse gases.
The government has insisted that automakers have to play their part in shifting to the greener cars of tomorrow, by offering discounts to buyers or by filling in gaps in the charging network.
But Merkel, once dubbed the “car chancellor” for her cosy ties with auto bosses, has also stressed that the crucial industry’s 800,000 employees will not be left behind.
Monday’s meeting was also about protecting jobs in the fast-changing sector, she said, adding that retraining schemes could help bring workers “along on the road to a modern, climate-friendly future.”


In streaming wars, Disney reaches beyond kids and families

Updated 35 min 47 sec ago

In streaming wars, Disney reaches beyond kids and families

  • Disney’s marketing force is reaching beyond its traditional family audience to send a message that its $7-a-month subscription service Disney+ offers something for all ages

LOS ANGELES: During commercial breaks in a broadcast of World Wrestling Entertainment’s WWE SmackDown, fans were shown ads for Walt Disney Co’s new streaming service, Disney+. So were “Monday Night Football” viewers and video gamers watching Twitch.
“Try to keep up,” said Captain Marvel in one ad after a series of fast-paced clips from “Star Wars,” “The Simpsons,” “The Avengers” and other Disney-owned hits from outside of its deep catalogue of children’s classics.
Disney’s marketing force is reaching beyond its traditional family audience to send a message that its $7-a-month subscription service Disney+ offers something for all ages. The service debuted on Tuesday in the United States, Canada and The Netherlands.
“It’s incumbent upon us to market it the right way to emphasize the fact that it’s not just for kids,” Disney executive Kevin Mayer said during a briefing at the company’s Burbank, California, headquarters. “It’s all family friendly, but everyone can enjoy this product.”
Disney has told investors it can hook 60 million to 90 million customers within about five years as it competes for customers in a crowded streaming market dominated by Netflix Inc. 
Signing up adults who do not have children at home is part of that plan.
Consumers may not realize that after a series of acquisitions Disney is much more than classics like “Cinderella” and “Mary Poppins” that charmed generations of families. The company now owns the celebrated “Star Wars” movie franchise; Iron Man, the Hulk and dozens of other Marvel superheroes; “Toy Story” animation house Pixar, and nature programming channel National Geographic.
Previously released movies and TV series from all of those brands, plus 30 seasons of “The Simpsons,” are available on Disney+ alongside decades of Disney’s family-centric offerings.
Disney+ also offers new programming from those brands.
To raise awareness, the company is promoting Disney+ during sports and primetime TV telecasts to get in front of what Hollywood calls the four quadrants of viewers: male, female, young and old.
“We’re unmatched in quality and appeal across our four-quadrant audience spanning a variety of genres, formats and arenas, and will continue to build on that year after year,” said Ricky Strauss, president of content and marketing for Disney+.
In addition to the wrestling, football and gaming contests, ads ran during the World Series and the ABC News late-night program “Nightline,” and on social media networks.
Early testing in The Netherlands, where Disney offered a free two-month trial of Disney+, attracted a “very large and diverse audience,” said Mayer, who runs Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international unit.
“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” a series aimed at 18- to 49-year olds, ranked as the most-watched piece of content, Mayer said. Next was tween-oriented show “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” followed by “Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” a cartoon for young children.
“Our hypothesis was we will have a lot of different types of viewership, that it’s not going to be centered among any one of our brands,” Mayer said. “It’s quite a nice confirmation of what we want accomplished.”
The initial response in The Netherlands has cheered industry analysts.
“They have some surprising and encouraging signs about this potential that Disney+ is not just kids and family,” Forrester analyst Jim Nail said.
But unlike Netflix, Disney+ limits how far its programming will go to attract older viewers. To keep it family friendly, the service will not have any R-rated movies or TV shows designated TV-MA for mature audiences.
Programming considered too adult for Disney+ may stream on Hulu, which Disney also owns. That will include FX series such as “American Horror Story” and “Fargo” and possibly movies starring Deadpool, a Marvel character known for foul-mouthed humor, when rights become available.
“There are boundaries to what we’ll put on Disney+,” Mayer said. “’Deadpool’ is definitely not for Disney+.”