Press Releases

Mattes: Strong innovation offensive by German manufacturers and suppliers at the CES

Las Vegas/Berlin, 07 January 2019

Focal points in Las Vegas are electric mobility, digitization, connected and automated driving, and autonomous driving – German automotive industry employs more than 118,000 people at over 300 US plants – Large export quota – Support for free and fair trade

Statement delivered by Bernhard Mattes, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), at the VDA’s press conference on January 7, 2019, at 4 pm, at the CES, Las Vegas (NV), USA​

The VDA has over 600 member companies, and over 500 of them are suppliers. We are therefore not only a “manufacturer association,” but also reflect the entire automotive value chain – for passenger cars and commercial vehicles alike.

Worldwide, the German OEMs build 16.5 million passenger cars, 5.1 million of them in Germany. Our share of the global passenger car market comes to around 20 percent.

The German automotive industry’s sales amount to 425 billion euros, and it employs a workforce of 834,100 in Germany alone. And more than one million people are employed at our sites in other countries.

We support free world trade. Free and fair trade is crucial to our activities in the US in particular. This is because for the German manufacturers and suppliers, the United States represents both a strategically important market and a significant production site.

Our companies operate over 300 US plants employing more than 118,000 people, of which 80,000 are at the suppliers. In 2017 the German OEMs built more than 800,000 light vehicles in the US. More than half of all the cars we produce here are exported to Europe, Asia or the rest of the world. The largest vehicle exporter in the US is a German manufacturer.

These figures underscore the importance of the German automotive industry for the US economy.

Yet we are facing forward. We have come to the CES above all to explain to you how this industry will shape the path into the future. And the fact that automobiles have the special ability to adopt and integrate all innovations. That makes this product so unique.

Around the world, we are dealing with several megatrends that drive the need for individual mobility:

  • a growing population, more and more of whom live in cities,
  • a growing middle class with purchasing power and significant mobility needs,
  • changing purchasing behavior,
  • digitization and connectivity in all relevant markets and customer segments,
  • a quantum leap in China.

This growth dynamic must be combined with environmental and climate protection. The European Union’s CO2 targets are especially ambitious. For the automotive industry that means greater mobility coupled with lower emissions, more growth with lower resource consumption – a real challenge!

As the most innovative automotive industry making the world's greatest investments in research, we are in pole position. We are shaping the mobility of the future.

Strong growth in electric mobility…

The German automotive industry is putting in a massive amount of advance work on the decarbonization of road traffic:

  • During the next three years it will treble its portfolio of e-models to 100.
  • Over the same period it will invest 40 billion euros in alternative powertrains.
  • It leads in patents for alternative powertrains. One third of all patents anywhere in the world in the fields of electric mobility and hybrid drive come from Germany.

We have a strong market position in electric mobility. We account for
49 percent of new registrations of electric passenger cars in the EU (Jan. to Oct. 2018), and in Germany the figure is 66 percent. In the US we take
11 percent of the market for electrically powered light vehicles.

There is no doubt that electric mobility is growing rapidly. In the first ten months of 2018 the e-market (for light vehicles) in the US expanded by
58 percent to 246,500 new vehicles, while in the European Union it added 38 percent to reach 238,200 passenger cars, and in China it grew by
90 percent to 746,600 new vehicles.

…and heavy investment in digitization and connected, automated and autonomous driving

We are convinced that the future of the car is electric – and digital. Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a key role on the path to automated and autonomous driving. And it offers the automotive industry huge potentials in production, products and transport: fewer accidents, better traffic flow, intelligent (i.e. learning) traffic guidance, and connectivity with all modes of transport.

Today new models from our manufacturers already have a large number of intelligent driver-assist systems, such as camera-based systems warning them of rear-end collisions and human beings, the speed assistant with a no-overtaking indicator and lane departure warning, and the radar-based cross-traffic alert. These assistants “listen to the driver,” i.e. they receive their instructions from the driver via voice control. The age of button-pressing is over.

Worldwide, the applications for patents on connected and automated driving make it clear that the German manufacturers and suppliers are very successful in this field, accounting for roughly half of all patents filed. So they come top in the international ranking.

During the next three years the German automotive industry will invest
18 billion euros in digitization, connected and automated driving, and autonomous driving.

Digitization means that manufacturers and suppliers will also become service providers and develop new mobility solutions: car-sharing, ride-pooling, mobility platforms und mobility apps are only the beginning. We are expanding the frontiers of connected and automated driving.

As you can see, the German auto industry is undergoing a huge transformation. It is wide awake, courageous and forward-looking – and does not need to be “shoved along” by anyone.

Electric mobility and digitization are becoming more and more closely linked

The huge expertise that the German OEMs and suppliers possess on these future markets can be seen right here at the CES.

One particular trend is clearly visible: electric mobility and digitization are growing together, are becoming more closely integrated and are fusing to create new forms of mobility.

Evidence of this comes from the innovations by German passenger car and commercial vehicle makers and from large suppliers here at the CES:

Audi is presenting its vision of how a future journey by car will become a digital entertainment experience. The models will be connected in many ways to offer new spaces for experiences inside the vehicles. Cars will become movie theaters on wheels. Automated driving will generate more free time to enjoy the next generation of in-car entertainment. The journey itself is becoming the destination!

Furthermore, the company is showing innovations in its first all-electric SUV called “e-tron” (with a range of up to 417 km in the WLTP test cycle).

BMW is presenting the Vision iNEXT that recently celebrated its world premiere in Los Angeles. It focuses on the interaction between human beings and vehicles. All the deliberations center on people, their emotions, and their mobility needs and preferences. Autonomous driving, electrification and increasing connectivity offer completely new possibilities and experiences. Drivers can decide how they wish to use the journey time – driving the vehicle themselves, or being driven and at the same time working or enjoying some form of entertainment? The new technologies do not dominate people, but are always there in the background, vigilant and ready for use.

Daimler will celebrate – alongside the world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz CLA with its advanced, intelligent MBUX infotainment system – the US premieres of the battery-electric Mercedes-Benz EQC and the Vision URBANETIC. The Vision URBANETIC is a completely new mobility concept for demand-based, efficient and sustainable mobility. It is based on a self-driving, electrically powered chassis that can take different switchable bodies for passengers or freight. The concept reduces traffic flows, relieves the pressure on the urban infrastructures, and contributes to improved quality of urban life.

We are especially delighted that Daimler Trucks – a major commercial vehicle player with a broad portfolio – is present at the CES. Daimler Trucks is presenting its latest corporate and technological developments and indicates some of the next steps that will be significant in automated driving.

We know just how strong the commercial vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers are when it comes to digitization.

Complete integration of strategic fields of innovation

Daimler calls the four key pillars of the mobility of the future “CASE” (connected, autonomous, shared and electric), whereas at BMW they are called “ACES” (automated, connected, electrified and services).

Here at the CES it is clear that the next step is the full integration of these strategic fields of innovation in the vehicle. Our companies are focusing their efforts on this goal – automotive OEMs are turning into automotive manufacturers and mobility service providers.

The German suppliers are also highly engaged, as demonstrated by Bosch and Schaeffler, for instance. Attention is centered on driverless e-shuttle vehicles that are completely connected and can be used either for passenger transport or for cargo, as required. Bosch supplies components and systems for shuttle vehicles for automation, connectivity and electrification. Yet shuttle mobility is actually made possible by mobility services that Bosch will also offer in the future and will bundle into an intelligent and seamlessly connected ecosystem. This will include platforms for reservations, sharing and networking, parking and charging services, software solutions for managing and maintaining the vehicles, and infotainment during the journey.

Furthermore, the companies are presenting intelligent, holistic, innovative micro-mobility solutions for the urban mobility of the future, such as Schaeffler’s Bio-Hybrid.

According to a study by Roland Berger (“A new breed of cars. Purpose-built electric vehicles for mobility on demand”), in 2020 alone around one million special vehicles could be sold for ride-sharing services in Europe, in the US and China, most of them electrically powered and initially still with a driver. Demand is expected to reach 2.5 million units in 2025. After that will come the age of autonomous driving. The number of e-shuttles – many of them then “robocabs” – could double by 2030, to 5 million vehicles. That would link two megatrends in mobility: the greater use of ride-sharing services and electric mobility.

A choice between autonomous driving or taking the wheel yourself? I am sure that these options are not mutually exclusive, but instead in the future they will be two sides of the same coin. This will bring about new options for customers.

Here is another neat example of ideas from suppliers: Continental is using its solutions for intelligent vehicle doors to optimize the interplay between safety and comfort: state-of-the-art technologies such as the intelligent door brake system and the smart autonomous door support convenient opening and closing, while simultaneously preventing rapid, and thus uncontrolled, slamming of vehicle doors. In addition, their obstacle detection functions enhance road safety and prevent dents and scratches in the paintwork.

The autonomous door system is also a necessary function for automated driving. Driverless vehicles must be able to open and close their doors even without operators or door handles to deal with various practical situations and allow passengers to get in and out conveniently.

ZF is presenting the latest version of its automotive control unit: according to the company, its central computer ZF ProAI RoboThink offers the most powerful computing capacity in the sector. Vehicle makers will also benefit from the modularity and scalability of the system. The four models in the ZF ProAI product family can be optimally configured for any purpose – from basic ADAS functions all the way to autonomous driving and industrial applications. Customers are free to choose the software architecture they want.

In addition, ZF offers its extensive system competence to providers of autonomous ride-hailing, which is about sharing journeys in robo-taxis or robo-shuttles (“mobility as a service”). This includes sensors such as cameras, radar and LiDAR systems, central computers complete with software and algorithms, and mechatronic actuators and safety systems.

Good opportunities for the future: automobiles adopt all innovations – connected mobility options are growing steadily

Again and again we hear critics saying that the automotive industry could be threatened by a similar fate to that befalling analog photography, the music industry or the traditional cell phone industry (after the invention of the smartphone). In all these segments, the innovation spread through the network, and hardware was replaced by software.

In my view, however, there is a major difference here. Until now automobiles have been the only product that was in a position to take up all innovations, integrate them into vehicles to increase the benefits that the vehicles offer. This is true of GPS, voice control, music streaming and the numerous assistance systems that in the future will be more and more internet-based.

We therefore also see digitization as an opportunity for our companies, just like zero-emission electric powertrains. For the customers that is good news: they get more value for money. They will continue to appreciate the privacy and safety of their cars – while at the same time they will be able to choose from an ever greater range of connected mobility systems and features.

And there is a second point, too. Downsizing automobiles runs contrary to an important customer demand: in the future, a new model – if it is not intended to serve one particular niche – will only be built in larger numbers if it offers enough space for at least four people and a trunk to match. This means that – in a global view – the fundamental mobility and transport requirements placed on an automobile cannot be altered. I am therefore confident that the automotive industry will remain a growth sector – in a world of mobility that becomes ever more connected.

Provide the necessary framework

If the mobility of the future is to pick up speed, the necessary framework must be created. In the case of electric mobility, this means establishing and expanding a powerful charging infrastructure. For connected and automated driving and autonomous vehicles we need a powerful digital infrastructure – not only in towns and cities, but also along the national and federal roads and freeways, and in industrial regions. This applies in Germany and in Europe just as it does in China and the United States.

The economic area that makes the fastest progress here will be able to leverage the advantages in international competition.

Here at the CES we are looking to the future. Technologies are changing, customers’ wishes and markets are changing – and motor shows are also changing.

We will also experience the great progress in electric mobility, digitization, connected and automated driving, and autonomous driving at the IAA 2019 in Frankfurt. We are looking forward to a large number of new formats and players from startups and hi-tech companies. The IAA is transforming itself just like the entire industry. The core messages that we hear at the CES will be further emphasized at the IAA in Frankfurt in September. We are looking forward to it.

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