VDA’s 19th Technical Congress in Berlin – 700 participants from business, academia and politics – Europe’s most important meeting of automotive industry experts – focus on e-mobility and digitization
Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), has spoken out strongly against banning diesel passenger cars. At the VDA’s 19th Technical Congress in Berlin Wissmann emphasized, “Anyone who wants to ban diesels is also blocking climate protection. Modern Euro 6 diesels are, together with electric mobility, the most important element for achieving the European climate protection targets. Their CO2 emissions are up to 15 percent lower than those of comparable gasoline vehicles. There are more intelligent solutions than driving bans: we are improving the air quality in towns and cities by enabling traffic to flow more freely and the consistent introduction of the ‘green wave.’ That prevents traffic queues, impacts on the entire passenger car fleet, and markedly reduces emissions. Digitization shortens the search for a parking space and also relieves the burdens on towns and cities. Furthermore, buses and taxis should be replaced with the latest models as quickly as possible.”
Banning newer diesel passenger cars would also be questionable social policy: ‘In Stuttgart, from 2018 onward, even Euro 5 diesel cars are to be prohibited from driving when there is a ‘particulate alarm.’ These cars would then be just two and a half years old. The announcement of the ban has caused considerable uncertainty for ordinary citizens, many entrepreneurs and craftspeople. Politicians should consider whether such a massive intervention in many people’s property and wealth would be proportionate,” Wissmann said. He added that this was not about a few “old stinkers,” but relatively new used cars. Around 40 percent of the diesel cars on German roads satisfy the Euro 5 standard.
The VDA president pointed out that the German manufacturers and suppliers were working intensively on further improvements to diesel technology: “At the end of 2019, 80 percent of newly registered diesel passenger cars will already be equipped with SCR, the most advanced exhaust technology. At the beginning of the next decade, almost every newly registered diesel car will have it. This means that the issue of nitrogen oxide from new vehicles has been resolved.”
“Internal combustion engines will be with us for many years to come. But at the same time, we are investing heavily in electric mobility and digitization,” Wissmann stressed, and added that both topics were focal points at the Technical Congress. For example, by the year 2020 the German automotive industry will spend around 40 billion euros on the further development of electric mobility. “By 2020 the German OEMs will have more than trebled the number of electric models they have on offer – from the current 30 models to nearly 100. This is a huge effort, because the billions spent on this must be earned from current business, that is, from the sale of cars with internal combustion engines. We cannot – as some people outside the industry suppose – simply ‘say farewell’ to one type of powertrain. This is not a nationalized industry that will always receive financial support despite continuous losses. It is responsible for many hundreds of thousands of employees,” the VDA president underscored.
The Technical Congress was also focusing on connected and automated driving, Wissmann emphasized, and drew attention to the sector’s willingness to innovate: “Progress is our second name. We are driving digitization. That applies in particular to the great megatrend of mobility: connected and automated driving.” The German automotive industry holds 58 percent of all patents worldwide in the field of connected and automated driving. Wissmann continued, “This makes Germany the reigning world champion not only in football and exports, but also in patents for connected and automated driving. We want to stay in the lead. The German vehicle industry is therefore investing another 16 to 18 billion euros in technologies for digitization during the next three to four years.”
Rules for automated driving on public roads are also being elaborated in other important automotive markets, such as the US. For this reason Germany must utilize the current parliamentary session to put the legal foundations in place.
The VDA’s 19th Technical Congress is being held in Berlin on April 5 and 6, 2017. It is Europe’s most important meeting in the automotive industry and is accompanied by 17 exhibitors. The number of participants – from the realms of business, academia and politics – exceeds 700 and sets a new record. The Technical Congress is becoming more and more international: ambassadors and embassy delegates from ten countries – the US, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan, Estonia, Yemen, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Kosovo, the Republic of Mauritius and the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal – have registered to attend. Over 50 high-ranking representatives of the automotive industry will deliver presentations at the Technical Congress, including Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management at Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, Dr. Stefan Sommer, Chief Executive Officer of the ZF Group, and Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the Board of Management at Robert Bosch GmbH and Chairman of the Business Sector Mobility Solutions. Prof. Johanna Wanka, German Federal Minister of Education and Research, is speaking on “Research for the car of tomorrow.”
Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister of Education and Research: “One important driver of innovation is the automotive industry. A large number of technical innovations have come from German manufacturers, for example in lightweight construction and in electronics. In 2016 the automotive sector invested around 32 billion euros in research and development – which was ten percent up on the previous year and right at the top in international comparison. We need and encourage this spirit of innovation when it comes to research for the car of tomorrow, because future mobility poses new challenges for us, which demand answers. We must tackle climate change, improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas, and use the opportunities offered by digitization to avoid traffic burdens.
In the future mobility will still have to be considered individually in many ways and therefore cars will retain an important role in the mobility of the future. If the cars of tomorrow are not to emit any CO2, we will have to take huge steps forward in innovation. As yet we do not know which powertrain will predominate. New fuels and powertrain models are just as conceivable as electric mobility. The crucial factor will be that we maintain and expand our leading role as a nation of innovation in the future. To do so, we have to think in all directions and be open to technology.”
Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management at Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development: “Individual mobility of the future will be characterized by four major trends: connectivity, autonomous driving, sharing and electric powertrains. It will be essential to link these four trends together intelligently. We are pursuing precisely this goal with our CASE strategy. The aim of this focus is to achieve more penetration and speed in implementation. Our developments always concentrate on the customer.”
Dr. Stefan Sommer, Chief Executive Officer of the ZF Group: “ZF is using the far-reaching change in the automotive industry to transform itself into a technology corporation that will take on a leading role in the forward-looking areas of e-mobility and autonomous driving. The ZF approach combines mechanics and electronics. And the car of the future will still have mechanics, because the much-cited ‘iPhone on wheels’ will still need brakes and steering, axles and other mechanical components. Here, in the combination of hardware and software, is where our strength lies – we produce intelligent mechanical systems.”
Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the Board of Management at Robert Bosch GmbH and Chairman of the Business Sector Mobility Solutions: “No matter whether it’s diesel powertrains, gasoline vehicles or electric mobility, Bosch is the number one development and technology partner for vehicle makers. In the future Bosch will put more and more new energy into powertrains. We present solutions that make electric mobility affordable for the masses. One example is Bosch’s electric axle drive system (eAxle) that combines an electric motor, power electronics and transmission in a compact form. The electric axle drive has the potential to give the market another boost toward electric vehicles.”