Forum Automotive Logistics / Extending truck toll burdens SMEs
Automobile production and automotive logistics continue to become more important for Germany. Germany is the only large automotive country in Europe that has been able to increase vehicle production at its sites over the past ten years – to 5.6 million passenger cars in 2014. Exports have also climbed, reaching 4.3 million. “This success is partly rooted in the automotive industry’s outstanding logistics performance. Our high export quota demands very complex logistics chains that function smoothly. The logistics providers in our sector are setting the standards for production logistics around the world,” said Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), at the Forum Automotive Logistics in Leipzig. Alongside domestic production, he said, the German automotive industry was continuing to expand assembly at sites in other countries, where it reached a figure of well over 9 million passenger cars in 2014. Wissmann added, “The ongoing globalization of production makes the logistics chains ever longer and more complex. One reason why the German automotive industry is so successful on the international markets is that it manages global production complexity by applying sophisticated logistics.”
Wissmann said that automotive logistics now faced the challenge of linking logistical processes even more closely with information technology. The advent of “Industry 4.0” meant that products themselves were turning into a source of information. “The automotive industry is one of those setting the pace of development. Load carriers, machines and systems are being networked in the Internet of Things. To add to this there are intelligent, often even autonomously controlled processes,” Wissmann explained. “Today we face the task of further expanding these processes and communicating between companies in order to actually control the dense logistics networks,” the VDA president continued. To use all the options offered by connected logistics, the partners involved would need to be integrated into the supply chain in the best possible way, he said. And this would include not only the manufacturers and suppliers but also the logistics service providers.
“Our companies are working every day on making transport and logistics even more efficient, so they are especially dependent upon an intact traffic infrastructure. This is one key factor affecting the competitiveness of Germany as a business location and that of our logistics sector,” Wissmann stated. He welcomed the fact that during this parliamentary session Germany’s Grand Coalition was investing an extra 5 billion euro overall in the traffic infrastructure. Yet in addition to that, he explained, the public budgets needed to prioritize investment for growth and employment. Wissmann’s criticism was that, “Instead of doing this, the German Government is going for additional revenue and expanding the truck toll. Most of all the changes affect German transport companies, in particular the SMEs. Some say that this is merely intended to balance out the reduced toll rates in 2015. But that is not the case. The expected revenues outweigh the lost income. So in the medium term extending the truck toll will genuinely increase the burdens on the transport industry and the economy in general.”