Now it’s time to deliver: "More progress. More speed. More investments. More infrastructure."
2021: Stormy year for car business – paradigm shift in industrial policy - infrastructure and framework conditions as a base for successful transformation - communication and dialogue as key elements for social support
In view of the task of the century, the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) calls for more speed in the development and expansion of the infrastructure, which is absolutely necessary for the implementation of the ambitious climate goals. In addition, noticeable acceleration of planning in all sectors and a realistic inventory of current developments in the buildup and expansion of renewable energies and digital infrastructure are urgently needed to actually achieve the ambitious goals and on schedule.
"We see a paradigm shift in industrial policy and need an end of the theoretical debates about climate targets. It is about the practical implementation of what has been decided. Climate and industrial policy are brought together. That's right this way," explains VDA President Hildegard Müller at the association's annual press conference.
"Our planet needs decisive action. Now it’s time to deliver! The focus is now on the infrastructure and the framework conditions. They are the critical factors for the industry when implementing the committed goals. We can only cope with the enormous tasks that lie ahead of us with long-term social support – that's why it's important to take into account the different ways of people's lives and to shape the change in a socially responsible manner," says Müller.
Charging infrastructure: "The gap is getting bigger, not smaller. A gap that can cost us success. But failure is not an option. Consumers need sufficient charging facilities. The gap must be closed as soon as possible. That's why a summit involving all stakeholders in charging is needed in the near future. If Germany keeps up its current, modest pace, we will only have around 160,000 charging points in 2030 – not even a sixth of the targeted 1 million. Therefore: More expansion speed, please," demands Müller.
Renewable energy: "E-cars can only contribute to climate-neutral mobility if they are fueled with 100% green electricity. In addition, the demands on the power grid will continue to increase as e-mobility ramps up. Network expansion is therefore the basic prerequisite for enabling mobility in the future – and must be pushed forward with more determination," demands Müller. "Renewable energy is also required for the production of e-fuels and hydrogen, so the demand is constantly growing. It will not be possible to produce the required amount solely in Germany," says Müller. "Germany therefore needs committed programs for energy and commodity partnerships, an active commodities foreign policy – which also acts as a climate policy. The markets are currently being allocated largely without our participation. Germany must act more quickly and act strategically here," warns Müller.
Digitization: "The international competition is enormous – Germany cannot develop its potential because there is still no nationwide 5G network. If the expansion of the digital infrastructure is not accelerated, Germany as an industrial location will fall behind internationally," says Müller.
Semiconductor and battery production: Added value in e-car construction requires new production and procurement processes. "If Germany also wants to be the world market leader of the future, then it needs to set up semiconductor factories now. The EU Chips Act is an important and appropriate initiative to strengthen the industry as a whole through the development of European know-how and factories, to cover the increasing demand for semiconductors and to become less dependent on international delivery difficulties. The automotive industry also needs this security of supply, especially to ensure its own needs for future projects – such as networked or autonomous driving. We can only assume a global leadership role in the markets of the future if Europe enters this market itself," says Müller. The same approach is also needed for battery production, explains Müller: "Initial plans to expand battery production in Germany and Europe already exist. The timely implementation of the plans is important so that the added value for the automotive industry can be maintained in Europe."
"The automotive industry is the driver of the transformation and will invest €220bn in research and development by 2026 alone. Added to this are the expenses for the conversion and new construction of plants. Every tenth job in Germany is related to our industry. In order to continue to fully develop our potential in Germany and to use it in all areas, infrastructure and framework conditions are the necessary base – and this base is not yet sustainable," summarizes Müller.
"Another decisive factor for a successful transformation is a socially minded support, maintaining a mobility accessible and affordable for everyone – and that the support by society as a whole will be secured in the long term. Dialogue and informative communication are also prerequisites for this: The VDA stands for a meaningful exchange of facts and ideas, with an interest in joint solutions," says Müller.
That is why Müller directs the offer of talks particularly to NGOs and activists who have different views. Müller emphasizes: "Peaceful protest is just as valuable a part of democracy as the decision-making processes, which – especially when it comes to the climate issue – serve to balance all legitimate interests and to shape society. The German automotive industry also wants faster political decision-making and implementation processes, especially to enable progress. Hence the leitmotif in our message: More speed, please! We are convinced that we need more democracy for this, not less. More effective and faster processes strengthen our democracy. And they are effective when they are developed in a constructive debate – with the courage to make decisions."
Market Forecast 2022:
During the press conference, Müller also announces the market forecast. "For 2022, we expect the global passenger car market to grow by 4%, similar to that in 2021. This would mean that in 2022 the global passenger car market would be almost 13% below the 2017 peak. The markets in the United States and China are likely to grow by 2%, Europe is currently much further away from the pre-crisis level and is likely to grow by 5% due to catch-up effects, among other things. The VDA expects the German market to grow by 7% to 2.8 million passenger cars in 2022. Domestic production of 3.5 million units is expected for 2022. This is an increase of 13%, but only corresponds to the production level of 2020. Foreign production is likely to increase by 5% to 9.9 million units this year.
Demand for commercial vehicles is also very strong. However, it encounters a limited supply due to bottlenecks as well. We expect 8% more heavy-duty vehicle registrations in Europe this year, and 5% more in the United States."