VDA’s 21st Technical Congress in Berlin – 40 speakers from industry and politics – Focus on mobility of the future
“The prevailing topics of recent years have been climate and environmental protection, and therefore also sustainable mobility. This holds true not only for Germany, but also for the rest of the world. And it also holds this year,” stressed Bernhard Mattes, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). He was speaking as the VDA’s 21st Technical Congress kicked off in Berlin. Mattes underscored the important contribution made by the German manufacturers and suppliers: “Over the next three years, the German automotive sector will invest 40 billion euros in alternative powertrains. Today it is already the leader in patents on alternative propulsion. One third of all patents in the field of electric mobility and hybrid drive anywhere in the world come from Germany. And during the next three years our industry will treble its range of electrified vehicles to around 100.” Mattes added that climate-neutral e-fuels could rapidly improve the CO2 footprint throughout the passenger car and commercial vehicle fleets, and that these potentials should be utilized swiftly. “Furthermore, the German automotive industry leads in connected and automated driving. In this field our OEMs and suppliers actually account for 48 percent of all patents worldwide. During the next three years we will invest an additional 18 billion euros in this technology that also represents huge CO2 leverage. Digitization and alternative powertrains show us the way to zero emissions,” Mattes said.
However, he continued, successful climate protection needs not least policymakers and the industry to join forces. “For this reason over a dozen high-ranking experts from our industry are also involved in the National Platform for Mobility. It is astounding to see that the Federal Ministry for the Environment is working on a law that calls the basic philosophy of this work into question.” Mattes said, “Those who want to prescribe exactly how many tonnes should be achieved in each year, and what should happen in each sector, are sure to come into conflict with innovation and economic dynamics.” The objective should be to promote innovative solutions, the VDA president stressed, adding: “We must back innovations and competition. This demands targets of course, but not steering every little detail, which ignores the nature of market dynamics. We want to free the climate protection dynamic from its fetters, not create new ones.”
It was therefore necessary, Mattes explained, to have effective driving forces focused on the needs of the customers. “The ramp-up of electric vehicles requires intelligent promotion that creates incentives and simultaneously takes the additional costs to customers into account.” Moreover, the charging and gas-tank infrastructure had to be expanded. It would also be expedient to institute practical advantages for customers, such as special parking options or toll exemptions for trucks with an electric or LNG powertrain.
The VDA’s 21st Technical Congress, that is being held in Berlin on March 14 and 15, 2019, is the most important technology symposium for the automotive industry in Europe. A total of 700 participants from industry, politics and academia discuss the mobility issues of the future. The main focus is on digitization, connected and automated driving and urban mobility. Artificial intelligence, data management and cyber security are also covered in plenary sessions. In all, it draws around 40 high-ranking representatives from the realms of politics and business. In addition, 27 exhibitors are attending the symposium.
Oliver Wittke, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, emphasized in his keynote speech: “The vehicle industry is facing monumental changes. Climate protection targets and electric mobility, automated driving, and the introduction of new and connected mobility offers will generate great challenges for the sector. However, the German automotive industry has again and again proved its drive for innovation. I am certain that the German vehicle makers and their suppliers will also master these challenges. The German Government will continue to work on regulations that will also create the conditions for success. In general, what is required now is that we as German and European players should bundle our capabilities, establish common standards, and be internationally competitive in the long term in the field of future technologies – particularly in comparison with the United States and China. This is also the idea behind the industry strategy that Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier presented in February.”
Thomas Ulbrich, member of the Board of Management at Volkswagen responsible for E-Mobility, said in his keynote speech: “Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time and we as automotive manufacturers have a responsibility here. We must now drive the shift to electric mobility forward courageously and powerfully, to create truly sustainable mobility. Volkswagen is willing to do so, as shown by our major electric offensive. But if e-cars are to become mainstream, we will need politicians and companies to work together. The charging infrastructure in particular demands a lot of a work.”
Dr. Stefan Hartung, member of the board of management and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector at Robert Bosch GmbH, stressed in his keynote speech: “Mobility is more than transport and traffic. Mobility is part of our individual quality of life and a driver of social and economic development. If we want to remain mobile tomorrow, we have to adapt and rethink our mobility today. Bosch wishes to support sustainable individual mobility for both passengers and freight, which has the least possible impact on the environment. In my view, the keys to this will be most importantly automation, electrification, connectivity and personalized mobility services.”
Wolf-Henning Scheider, Chief Executive Officer of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, said, “ZF’s products and services assist in designing the individual and public aspects of the mobility of the future. Our goal is safe, clean and affordable mobility for everyone, everywhere. We at ZF are convinced that engineers do not need barriers – instead they need room to do their job. That is the only way that we will come up with the right solutions to all needs. The key to the mobility of the future is a pragmatic approach open to all technologies, which brings people on board and is also attainable.”
Dr. Tom Vöge, transport policy expert (formerly at the UN and OECD), emphasized in his keynote speech the opportunity of vehicle automation: “Vehicle automation is a clear trend, both on the technical and the political level. Ideal business models for mobility do not attempt to replace the structures that have grown up over time, but instead to supplement them in an intelligent way. Vehicle automation can make these existing and emerging services even more attractive, both for the operators and for passengers. There is an enormous potential here, if we pursue the right transport policy principles.”
Dr. Jörg Stratmann, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO of Mahle GmbH, said in his keynote speech: “The best solution for environmentally sound and needs-based mobility always depends on the purpose for which it is used. For this reason it is essential to consider all available solutions and to make a technology-neutral assessment over the entire lifecycle of a vehicle.”
Dr. Alexander Lautz, Senior Vice President 5G of Deutsche Telekom, emphasized in his keynote speech the importance of 5G technology for the mobility of the future: “Looking back ten years from now, which device will we say was the device of the 5G era? Many people think it will be the car.”