14th VDA QMC Quality Summit in the automotive industry – Large investments in electric mobility and digitization – Half of all e-cars in Western Europe are German brands
“The German automotive industry’s spending on research and development comes to around 39 billion euros per year, which is more than in any other sector. Much of this money flows into the development of alternative powertrains. Parallel to that, conventional powertrains are also being improved. At present no one knows for certain which powertrain will prevail in the future. Furthermore, in the medium and long term the combustion engine offers the prospect of climate-neutral operation – with the use of synthetic fuels. The technology for producing these “e-fuels” is already available; right now the question is how this climate-neutral fuel can be manufactured on a large scale at competitive cost,” explained Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). He was speaking at the 14th VDA QMC Quality Summit of the automotive industry in Berlin.
In the long term, Wissmann said, e-fuels had the potential to decarbonize the transport and electricity sector. “The future value of this technology is therefore being emphasized for good reason both by the EU and by the German Government. One particular advantage is that e-fuels reduce the CO2 output from all vehicles on the roads, so they are effective not only in newly registered vehicles,” he continued.
The Quality Summit, which takes place every year, is the most important specialist conference in automotive quality management in Germany. This year’s two-day event (on November 21 and 22, 2017) has around 200 international participants and its title is “QM system bridging a gap. Innovative mobility & product safety.” It was opened by VDA President Wissmann. Addresses then followed from Dr. Georg Schütte, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Dr. Anton Heiss, Senior Vice President Corporate Quality at BMW Group and chairman of the VDA’s Quality Management Committee (QMA), Dr. Jörg Burzer, Executive Vice President Quality Management at Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler AG, and Gunnar Herrmann, chairman of the Management Board at Ford Werke GmbH. In addition, numerous other high-ranking experts reported on quality management topics in the industry.
“The quality of the vehicles made by German manufacturers is excellent. This is demonstrated by the latest TÜV Report: among passenger cars two to three years old, eight of the top ten places go to cars from German brands. And that’s not all: the older cars with low defect rates (four to five years old, six to seven years old, and eight to nine years old) have German models in first place in every age category. I call that long-lasting quality. Even if the German automotive industry is still in difficult waters, this success points up the high quality of our companies’ products,” Wissmann stressed.
“The German vehicle makers and suppliers have been working for years on the vision of zero emissions. Here the goal is to build vehicles that do not emit any pollutants and are CO2-neutral. It is obvious that no matter whether large or small, manufacturer or supplier – every individual company in this industry aims to be involved in shaping this huge change. Therefore, at this time all business models are under scrutiny. Nobody is marking time. Great sea-changes are taking place in the plants. In view of the scale of the change, it is all the more important to provide smart political flanking measures to support the technological transformation process. We see being open to new technologies as a central theme,” the VDA president said.
And global competition for the best technical solutions in automation and digitization was progressing at speed, Wissmann said, adding, “The German automotive industry is already the world champion in patents for connected and automated driving. The Germans account for 52 percent of all such patents issued anywhere in the world since 2010. The top ten companies include six from Germany – four OEMs and two suppliers in first and third place.” During the next three to four years, manufacturers and suppliers would be investing 16 to 18 billion euros in digitization.
“Alongside the other options offered by the combustion engine, our companies are working above all on the switch to electric mobility. This is one of the main focuses of investment in R&D. Around 40 billion euros will be spent in this area by 2020,” the VDA president declared. Over this period, the German automotive manufacturers will more than treble their range of
e-cars, Wissmann said, from the current 30 models to nearly 100. In countries where electric mobility was being ramp-up very dynamically, the German providers were already in the lead. In Norway, for example, the share of the electric market going to German OEMs was 58 percent, in Western Europe as a whole it was 52 percent, and in Germany 64 percent.
“Looking to the future, we assume that in 2025 the share of newly registered vehicles in Europe that are electric could be 15 to 25 percent. This will require a functional infrastructure,” Wissmann stated.