Future Mobility Summit in Berlin: mobility of tomorrow should be geared to customers
“In 2017 the German auto manufacturers set a new production record. Worldwide, a total of 16.5 million passenger cars bearing German badges rolled off the production lines. This international success forms the foundation for value creation at home, because more than three quarters of all cars built in Germany are destined for export. The current record workforce of over 825,000 regular employees at manufacturers and suppliers points up the excellent strategic orientation of our German plants,” said Bernhard Mattes, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). He was speaking at the Future Mobility Summit that is being organized by the “Tagesspiegel” newspaper in Berlin on April 9 and 10.
“But success today does not guarantee success tomorrow,” Mattes continued. “The automotive industry is undergoing and shaping a rapid transformation. The global population will grow from today’s 7 billion people to 10 billion by 2050. The number of megacities will rise drastically, and the middle class with its considerable purchasing power will expand. The need for individual mobility will remain, but it will evolve: having an experience will be more important than owning a vehicle. All of these megatrends demand a re-think of the mobility of the future. And we are doing precisely that. Our solutions lie in low-emission powertrains, in connectivity, digitization and autonomous driving. No matter whether it’s car sharing or ride sharing – there is a demand for efficient, customer-friendly mobility offerings and connected means of transport.”
The aim of the German manufacturers and suppliers is, according to Mattes, to make road traffic even safer, more efficient and more comfortable in the future. “We want to gradually provide more and more support for drivers, and thus avoid accidents. To this end, we are developing automated driving functions based on existing driver assistance systems.” Almost half of all patents in connected and automated driving anywhere in the world come from the German automotive industry. Mattes added, “Germany is the world champion in patents in this field. During the next three to four years, German manufacturers and suppliers will invest up to 18 billion euros in this forward-looking area.”
Connectivity was a powerful lever for efficiency, he explained. Modern connectivity technologies could be used, for example, to optimize the search for a parking space and thus save time and reduce emissions. In German towns and cities, up to 50 tonnes of particulate matter and up to 1,000 tonnes of nitrogen oxide could be avoided. “Utilizing the digital potentials on the roads will necessitate full coverage with a dynamic cell phone network along all traffic routes. Furthermore, a smart political framework is required that provides legal security,” the VDA president said.
The German automotive industry pursues a broad-based decarbonization strategy. It ranges from additional improvements in combustion engines to alternative powertrains and fuels such as hydrogen, natural gas and e-fuels, and to all-electric vehicles. Mattes commented: “In the period up to 2020, our firms will be investing a total of 40 billion euros in the ongoing development of electric mobility alone. By then the number of electric models they have on offer will more than treble to around 100. When it comes to patents for alternative powertrains, German OEMs and suppliers are the international leaders. A study by the ifo Institute found that one third of all patents worldwide for electric mobility and hybrid propulsion originate from Germany.”
The German electric mobility market, Mattes continued, had recorded a rise of 117 percent in 2017, which was the strongest growth by international comparison. The German passenger car makers were improving their position continuously. For example, their share of the e-vehicle market came to 66 percent, and in the first two months of 2018 it actually reached 70 percent. The top ten most popular new e-vehicles in February included seven German models. Germany has to catch up concerning the charging infrastructure. At present, this country has around 11,000 publicly accessible charging stations, 560 of them rapid charging points. The automotive industry is investing in a public charging infrastructure. Daimler, BMW and the Volkswagen Group are working with the American company Ford to install a rapid charging network on European freeways.
In the view of the VDA president, more effort is needed to help electric mobility achieve long-term success. “It is necessary to provide legal and financial support for establishing private charging stations. The environmental bonus should be extended beyond June 2019 within the approved framework. In addition, the building code, rental law and the law on property ownership will have to be adjusted. The German states should also make more consistent used of the existing legal options offered by the Electric Mobility Act,” Mattes said.