VDA President Hildegard Müller: Germany is revving up with electric cars

    Berlin, February 26, 2020

    German manufacturers bring numerous premieres to the Geneva Motor Show – More climate protection through technological innovation – Corona has tangible impact on supply chains

    This year the Geneva International Motor Show opens its doors in a challenging environment. “2020 got off to a weak start on the international passenger car markets. Last month, new registrations in Europe were down by 7 percent, while the US figures more or less matched those from January last year,” said Hildegard Müller, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).

    The large Chinese market shed a massive 20 percent in January, according to the provisional figures. One factor here was the timing of the Chinese New Year festival. “In addition, we are seeing the first negative effects of the coronavirus on the market. The virus appeared only after the New Year celebrations, but then as an epidemic,” Hildegard Müller stated.

    “Even without the coronavirus, we were already expecting the Chinese market to contract by 2 percent. But right now we are also calculating the figures for a potential scenario with a fall of 7 percent,” said Hildegard Müller. As there is no support coming from either Europa (-3 percent to 15.4 million passenger cars) or the US (-3 percent to 16.5 million light vehicles), the VDA expects to see the global passenger car market reach 78.2 million this year (-3 percent). In 2019 it already contracted for the second time in succession.

    Hildegard Müller went on to say that it was now clear the coronavirus was spreading internationally and exerting a tangible effect on both processes and value creation in many companies in the supply chain. “We do not currently expect the virus to stop spreading very soon,” Müller said. She added that in view of the situation, the VDA had set up a taskforce to gather the available information about the coronavirus and its impacts on the automotive industry and make it available to the member companies. The taskforce was also available as a point of contact for politicians, authorities and the general public.

    “The path before us is therefore going to be rocky and challenging. Furthermore, weaker markets lead to tougher competition. So the conditions will get rougher. We are preparing for this situation,” Hildegard Müller announced.

    However, at the same time the German automotive market is sending out positive signals. “While we cannot expect any support from the large markets, we are making good progress on alternative powertrains,” Hildegard Müller explained. In January 2020 alone, new registrations of electric passenger cars (BEVs and PHEVs) in Germany were up by almost 140 percent. The total of 16,143 units is a new record, representing 6.6 percent of the overall market. The German group brands pushed up their share of the market for electric cars to 63 percent (51 percent in January 2019).

    Worldwide, the German OEMs produced over 400,000 passenger cars with electric drive in 2019, nearly half of them (194,000) at their domestic plants. This makes Germany the third largest producer of electric cars in the world, after China and the US. Three out of four e-cars built in Germany are destined for export.

    “We need technological progress, and we need to be open to new technologies and innovations, if we are to achieve the climate protection targets, make vehicles CO2 neutral in the long term, and simultaneously safeguard individual mobility,” the VDA president underscored.