VDA President: “We are committed to the Paris climate target” –10 million e-cars on Germany’s roads in 2030 – Range of models to be trebled – “Waiting is not an option – We need a hefty shift to electric vehicles in Germany”
Bernhard Mattes, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), delivered a programmatic speech on the future of the automotive industry in Germany to the Wirtschaftsclub Wernigerode – an organization representing a large number of businesses, including suppliers, in Wernigerode (in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt). Owing to its proximity to large passenger car production facilities in the states of Lower Saxony and Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt is part of an automotive cluster comprising numerous suppliers’ plants. Suppliers account for over 500 of the more than 600 member companies in the VDA.
“The German automotive industry is committed to the Paris climate target. We want to contribute to making transport largely CO2-neutral by 2050,” Mattes said. He explained that one major component in achieving the climate protection goals in the field of transport was the “extremely ambitious EU fleet limit values – the strictest in the world.” They applied, he added, not only to passenger cars but also to light and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. All the technological options would have to be exploited appropriately to reach the targets. “To achieve the prescribed targets for passenger cars by 2030, around 40 percent of the vehicles newly registered in Europe must be electric models (battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids). This means that in Germany alone, 7 to 10.5 million electric vehicles must be on the roads by 2030. In order to accelerate the market ramp-up, it will be necessary to have a dense, Europe-wide, customer-friendly charging infrastructure, along with a powerful electricity grid. It will also require a system of promotion that is as unified and effective as possible. In short, we need a hefty shift to electric vehicles in Germany. The politicians have to take action.”
Whether the market ramp-up of electric mobility is ultimately successful would depend principally on the charging infrastructure, according to Mattes. “In the coalition agreement, the German Government has set the goal of providing at least 100,000 additional charging points for electric vehicles by 2020. That is good, but is not sufficient on its own. The private charging infrastructure must also be expanded. This will necessitate amendments to the rental and residential property legislation.” Mattes cited an international comparison illustrating the need for action: Berlin has 0.22 charging points for every 1,000 inhabitants, compared with 2.1 in Oslo and 2.5 in Amsterdam.
The VDA president stressed, “This is of course about money for financing the infrastructure – but there’s more to it than that. Specific local measures in all municipalities are equally important.” At present, Mattes explained, there was still no general coordination of infrastructure creation by the Government, the federal states and the municipalities. “This has meant that with the responsibilities shared out among these entities, no specific overall targets or obligations have yet been formulated, and construction is fragmented and is progressing differently in the various regions.”
Mattes went on to say that swift and coordinated creation of charging infrastructure across the areas for which the Government, the individual states and the municipalities are responsible would require the definition of quickly verifiable targets, clarification of responsibilities for building and expanding the charging infrastructure at all levels, and elimination of regulatory hurdles through coordinated action by the Government, states and municipalities. Moreover, all available options would have to be examined for keeping the price of electricity for vehicles down.
Mattes underscored that “Our OEMs and suppliers are working hard to decarbonize mobility. But we can’t manage it alone. It needs concerted activity by the German industry and a smart regulatory framework put in place by the policymakers. We expect that now, with the necessary billions invested in the charging infrastructure, the politicians will create the framework for a successful shift in propulsion technology and attainment of the climate targets. During the next three years, the German automotive industry will invest 40 billion euros in electric mobility.”
The technological shift will not come about by itself, Mattes stated. It would require huge efforts in the research and development departments. “Over the period during which the German automotive industry will be investing 40 billion euros, the German OEMs will more than treble their portfolio of electric models – from the current 30 models to nearly 100.” One in three patents anywhere in the world for electric mobility and hybrid drive comes from Germany. In the case of fuel-cell vehicles, one quarter of patents comes from Germany.
The VDA president pointed out that even though the sector’s investments were focused on electric mobility, other options were also being pursued. For example, OEMs and suppliers were continuing to optimize combustion engines, and this field still had the potential for a 20 to 30 percent efficiency improvement. “Furthermore, we are driving the development of alternative powertrains and fuels forward. As with the next generation of battery cells, to bring these technologies to a breakthrough it is necessary to invest now in research and development and in the industrial production of hydrogen and e-fuels. And not least, we are using digital services and connected and automated vehicles to make road traffic more efficient. Over the next three years our companies will be investing around 18 billion euros in digitization and connected and automated driving.”
Mattes emphasized, “It is important that technological solutions are not played off against one another. All of them are needed. Just waiting is not an option, because a standstill is a step backward. We must enter the mass market of electric mobility. And we must also pave the way for e-fuels and hydrogen to make a contribution. The only way we can achieve the climate goals is to view the shift as a holistic task for the whole of society.”