“The VDA’s Technical Congress has never before been as exciting it is this time: electric mobility and connected and automated driving are two of our major drivers of innovation, exerting impacts around the world. They make driving even safer, more efficient and more comfortable. Technology is developing very rapidly. This represents large challenges for the German automotive industry, but also huge opportunities that we are going to exploit,” stressed Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), as the association’s 18th Technical Congress kicked off. The congress is being held in Ludwigsburg on March 17 and 18, 2016, attended by over 600 participants from the private sector, academia and politics, which makes it the most important technology symposium in the European automotive industry. In addition to Wissmann, the speakers include a large number of high-ranking representatives from the automotive industry whose keynote lectures provide insights into the sector’s drive for innovation, along with representatives of the German Government.
Wissmann went into plenty of detail on the topic of diesels and pollutant emissions: “Please allow me to make one thing clear once again: defeat devices that manipulate tests are illegal and are irreconcilable with the way we see ourselves. What I ask is this: please do not make any blanket judgments about the automotive industry and its more than 800,000 employees in Germany alone, based on these events. We should also stand together in firmly resisting any discrediting of diesel technology. Manipulating software has nothing to do with diesel technology.”
Wissmann underscored: “We must therefore make the general public more aware of the advantages of diesels for reducing CO2. That is not going to happen overnight – it will need time. But it is important. The climate summit in Paris committed to the objective of bringing down CO2 output to make a major contribution to global climate protection. It is clear that anyone who says ‘yes’ to climate protection must also say ‘yes’ to diesels. That is why we need diesels. If only diesel vehicles were registered in Germany, every year the new vehicles alone would save as much CO2 as a town with 70,000 inhabitants emits every year. That is why the German and European automotive industries continue to support diesels. We are convinced that diesels can bring advantages not only in consumption and thus in CO2 emissions. With the latest Euro 6 exhaust technology, they can also comply with the most demanding pollution limits in the laboratory and on the roads. And this is completely legal, without any tricks.”
Wissmann added that diesels were relevant not only for vehicle manufacturers. The suppliers were especially heavily involved in developing diesels into “cleaner air machines” with the application of Euro 6. “Some of the suppliers employ thousands of highly qualified workers who dedicate all their skill to this technology to achieve environmental and climate-related benefits,” Wissmann emphasized.
Wissmann welcomed the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) testing that will be introduced in 2017, saying, “This additional test should reduce the gap between the test bench and everyday driving.” The VDA president pointed out that the EU’s RDE requirements were very challenging: “RDE tests will be conducted under almost any ambient conditions. The acceleration, route, outside temperature, wind conditions and traffic situation cannot be chosen. That is a large technological challenge for our companies and demands high levels of investment.” A major contribution will come from the new WLTP laboratory tests that are set to replace the obsolete NEDC testing cycle.
Furthermore, Wissmann explained, the European Commission was working on amendments to the framework directive for type approval. A draft Regulation had been put forward, which was intended to ensure the quality of type testing and type approval. Wissmann underscored, “The automotive industry is interested in a unified and robust type approval procedure. Nevertheless we should make sure that the procedures do not result in unnecessary bureaucracy and unwieldy workflows.”
As well as optimizing the classical internal combustion engine, the German automotive industry had invested 14 billion euros in electric mobility over recent years. Around 30 production models (BEVs, plug-in hybrids and range extenders) from German brands were already available. “According to McKinsey’s current Electric Vehicle Index (EVI), this means that Germany, China and Japan are among the most important producers of electric vehicles.” Wissmann drew attention to the market success enjoyed by the German manufacturers with their electric cars in the US: within one year they had more than doubled their market share to a good 20 percent. In order to achieve the necessary market penetration in Germany, too, policies should provide smart incentives that stimulate and promote demand. The revival of this debate in recent weeks was a welcome development.
Wissmann also spoke about the second major innovation trend – connected and automated driving. “The German manufacturers and suppliers will invest 16 to 18 billion euros in this field over the next three to four years. The key objective is making road traffic even more efficient and safer. Precisely because in the future more and more people worldwide will be living in towns and cities, we will need sustainable urban mobility that improves delivery efficiency, makes better use of the infrastructure, further reduces emissions, and greatly enhances road safety.”
The first steps toward these goals were the consistent introduction of the “green wave” (coordinated traffic lights could reduce emissions by up to one third) and optimizing the search for a parking space. According to a study by Prognos, motorists in Germany spend 560 million hours every year looking for a parking spot. Better use of the available data on the utilization of parking spaces, along with data from additional sources, could bring savings of up to 30 percent – which would be equivalent to reducing CO2 output by half a million tonnes. Wissmann said.
An absolutely decisive contribution to greater road safety would come from connected and automated driving. If cars could communicate with and “warn” one another, there would be far fewer accidents.
However, Wissmann continued, connectivity also required new forms of cooperation between the automotive industry, mobility and logistics providers, policymakers, and most of all with the municipalities. To put the regulatory framework in place and provide planning security, not only technical adjustments were required, he stressed, but also changes to existing legal regulations.
Dr. Michael Steiner, Vice President Complete Vehicle Engineering/Quality Management at Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, delivered a lecture in which he described the path to the all-electric sports car. The potential of conventional drive trains for reducing CO2 emissions will decrease to around one and a half percent per year over the coming years. Further improvements will be possible only by increasing powertrain electrification. In 2014 Porsche took on a pioneering role as it became the first manufacturer to put three plug-in hybrid models into series production. The company passed a milestone in the development of future electric powertrains by joining the World Endurance Championship (WEC). As a mobile research laboratory, the 919 Hybrid used in the championship sets new technological standards for the performance and efficiency of electric and hybrid drives. Findings from these activities flow directly into the development of Porsche’s first fully electric sports car – the production version of the Mission E concept. This includes the 800 volt technology, the high-performance electric motors and the powerful lithium-ion batteries.
Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the Board of Management at Robert Bosch GmbH and chairman of the business sector Mobility Solutions, emphasized, “One example of connected and automated driving is Bosch’s valet parking that will go into operation before the end of this decade. Then it will be sufficient just to drive the car up to the parking garage. The vehicle will look for a free space by itself and park in it. When it’s time to leave, the car will come to the driver, again all by itself. At the same time, Bosch’s developers are working on innovations that go far beyond the vehicle’s hood and make the car an active part of the Internet. The connected car of the future will communicate with the smart home so that functions in the house – such as heating and security systems – can be controlled at any time. If, for example, a parcel has to be delivered, the customer can quickly touch his automobile display to let the delivery man enter the house briefly and to confirm receipt of the parcel.”
Ralf Lenninger, Head of Strategy and Innovation, Division Interior at Continental, illustrated in his keynote lecture that digitization was already deeply rooted in the automotive industry and, following mechatronic products and system solutions, was on the cusp of the third wave with increasing vehicle connectivity: “From the electronic brake to the infotainment system: in 2015 Continental already turned over around 12 billion euros with digitized products. If increasing vehicle connectivity is going to bring attractive, safe and efficient mobility also in the future, we have to find common answers to the urgent questions. We must come up with new business models and forms of cooperation, and learn to handle increasing complexity. Here it is more important than ever to pull together within the automotive industry,” Lenninger stressed.
Jean-Dominique Senard, Chief Executive Officer of Michelin: “Tire innovation will continue to make a significant contribution to the reduction of CO2 emissions from road traffic as well as the greatest efficiency in the use of raw materials. MICHELIN tires stand out with their excellent level of safety through the entire span of the wear life of the tires. Even at the end of their lifetime, they ensure safe braking on wet and slippery roads, allowing consumers not only to use their MICHELIN tires safely for longer but also to benefit from the associated savings in energy and raw materials.”
Senard emphasized, “Michelin also demonstrates just how international the work of a large French supplier is today. We have 68 plants in 17 countries and on five continents. We have also been producing in Germany for 85 years. Our customers include many German automotive manufacturers – and of course we have been a member of the VDA for many years.”
Dr. Helmuth Ludwig, Executive Vice President Digital Enterprise, Siemens PLM Software Inc.: “The consistent dovetailing of electronic and physical engineering and production in the sense of a ‘digital twin’ significantly increases flexibility and efficiency, and simultaneously reduces development and production times. This enables our customers in the automotive industry to expand their production volumes by up to a factor of three, to improve quality, and at the same time to cut their development times by up to 50 percent.”
Prof. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development: “The automobile celebrates its 130th birthday this year. The cars of today are more efficient, more intelligent and more emotional than ever before. The best evidence for this comes from our new E Class: with Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive we are taking another great step toward accident-free and autonomous driving, but we are also ringing in a new era in digitization and connectivity. Highly efficient powertrains, such as our new OM 654 diesel engine and the latest generation of our intelligent plug-in hybrid technology, make the new E-Class a genuine masterpiece of intelligence.”
Rainer Bomba, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure: “We want our automotive success story to continue and to use the opportunities for growth and prosperity offered by Mobility 4.0. Our aim is greater mobility with lower emissions. We will achieve that through clean propulsion technology. We are therefore promoting electric mobility and expansion of the charging infrastructure throughout Germany. And we are promoting automated and connected driving. That means a higher level of safety, less congestion and therefore also less exhaust.”