Foreign Minister Gabriel met top-level representatives from politics, trade unions and industry at today’s IAA symposium of IG Metall and VDA to discuss the future of the auto industry
Today at the IAA, the trade union IG Metall and the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) formulated requirements for European and national climate protection policies for the coming years. To secure employment in the automotive industry, a smart policy would be necessary that set ambitious but realistic targets. The important principles included technology neutrality and the coexistence of combustion engines and alternative powertrains. The goal had to be to safeguard and strengthen automotive value creation throughout Europe. “We see the IAA 2017 as the platform for entering into an intensive public discussion on the form climate protection policy should take in the European Union. This is extremely urgent because the expected CO2 Regulation will determine the path for the future of the automotive industry and its employees,” explained Jörg Hofmann, President of IG Metall. And in the German Government’s Climate Action Plan there was a balance to be struck between economy, ecology and social aspects. VDA President Matthias Wissmann said, “The new regulation must be both ambitious and feasible: Brussels and Berlin are creating the regulatory conditions needed for technologies, investments and above all for plants and jobs in the European automotive industry up to 2030.”
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and top-level representatives from politics, trade unions and industry met today at the joint IAA symposium organized by IG Metall and the VDA to discuss issues affecting the future of the automotive industry. The panel discussion included Michael Brecht, Chairman of Daimler’s General Works Council, Wolf-Henning Scheider, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO of the Mahle Group, Prof. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management at Audi AG, and Achim Dietrich-Stephan, Chairman of the ZF Group Works Council.
Reaching the European target of 95 grams in 2020 would demand huge efforts on the part of the industry, it was stated. IG Metall and VDA agreed that alternative powertrains were becoming more and more important in reducing CO2 levels. IG Metall President Hofmann said, “Not only does the auto industry have to supply even more powerful, attractive electric cars. The policymakers also have a responsibility: e-cars will not be become established unless there is an infrastructure with charging pillars, sustainable electricity generation, storage and distribution. And the customers have to be won over.” VDA President Wissmann added, “For this reason we are opposed to fixed quotas with responsibility resting solely on the auto industry. Only a common effort by industry and politicians will bring the share of electric vehicles in Europe up to the significant level of 15 to 25 percent by 2025. And if we are to achieve ambitious CO2 targets in Europe, the customers really will have to buy a lot more electric cars and other alternative drivetrains.”
Electric mobility will bring about marked changes in automobile production, which could affect many thousands of jobs. A recent study by the ifo Institute shows that in Germany around 600,000 of today’s industrial jobs depend either directly or indirectly on the combustion engine. “Simply banning this technology – that is so important for Germany – would therefore be the wrong path to take. A regulation that does not specify a particular technology, leaving it up to the companies how they reach the emissions targets, would be smarter. That would more be likely to ensure that the sector moves toward alternative propulsion without damaging employment in Germany,” Wissmann said.
So policymakers, companies and trade unions should join forces to tackle the transformation process, according to IG Metall and the VDA. Hofmann stressed, “Value creation chains must be retained. For that we need decisions on the industrialization of products, such as battery cells, and on investments in the plants. Politicians must also deliver: alongside the essential investments in the infrastructure, a labor market policy is required that supports this transformation process with qualification measures. This is an area where companies and politicians have to take action. The employees need security.”
While electric mobility develops, improvements will be made to combustion engines. Conventional engines will still have a major role in the mix of drive trains for decades to come. Wissmann commented, “If we were to achieve a breakthrough with synthetic fuels based on renewable energy, cars with combustion engines could also become CO2 neutral.”
IG Metall President Hofmann called for coordinated action by the companies, associations, policymakers and other stakeholders. “A coordinated shift to new forms of transport and energy is the only way to make the transition to alternative powertrains and transform industry in practice. The instruments need to be better coordinated and implemented on a regional basis – which in turn demands new forms of policy coordination. Here, too, the next Federal Government must put forward robust proposals.”