“A high level of individual mobility and protection for our ecological life-support systems – these are the most important goals for the mobility of tomorrow,” according to Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), and Ralf Fücks, President of the Green Heinrich Böll Foundation.
In view of climate change and the tendency towards rising prices of raw materials, the key tasks for the automotive industry include reducing resource consumption and emissions, alongside road safety. “We must build the bridge between ambitious environmental policy targets and securing the international competitiveness of the German automotive industry, so that we can retain value creation and jobs in Germany in the future,” Wissmann and Fücks said. Probing this area of potentially conflicting interests was, they added, the aim of the joint congress entitled “Auto 3.0 – the future of the automotive industry,” which is being held in Berlin on 31 January and 1 February 2013.
“At the end of the next decade, two thirds of humanity will be living in urban areas. And these people will want individual mobility,” Wissmann underlined. The automotive industry had set itself the task of developing solutions and of making its vehicles more fuel-efficient. The German automotive industry alone, he added, invests over 20 billion euro in research and development every year, and a considerable portion of this goes on developing innovative drive train concepts. “No single means of transport will be able to cope with the growing amounts of traffic on its own. Therefore use of the existing infrastructure must be improved and the individual means of transport must be more closely networked with one another. We are developing new forms of mobility and business models. With their location-independent car clubs the German automotive companies are pioneers world-wide,” the VDA president stressed.
“The global number of cars will continue to increase. Ecologists, too, will have to address this fact,” Ralf Fücks emphasised. He said it would be possible to cope with a doubling of the number of vehicles world-wide only if it was linked with radical reductions in the consumption of both fuel and materials. “We need an ‘innovation offensive’ to make motor vehicles as energy-efficient as possible, with emissions as low as possible,” Fücks stated, adding: “Politicians must give the vehicle makers ambitious targets in order to maintain the high speed of innovation.” A combination of increasing energy efficiency and decarbonisation of the operating energy would make it possible to bring CO2 emissions down to almost zero. At the same time cars would have to be more closely integrated into public transport. The future, he said, belonged to models such as car clubs and car2go. The formula here is “using instead of owning.”
Wissmann pointed out that the EU’s proposed CO2 Regulation was the toughest in the world, and continued: “The requirements must maintain the balance between ecological responsibility and economic viability, if Europe is to remain a leading location for technology and production for the European automotive industry in the medium and long term.” Without premium vehicles, he said, Europe would be inconceivable as an automotive location. In Germany alone half of all jobs at the automotive manufacturers depended on the premium sector. Today the German automotive industry was a pioneer in reducing CO2 emissions and wished to continue this path with determination.
Fücks and Wissmann called for the industrial base in Germany to be secured for the future. “National economies with an innovative and competitive industry are more resistant to crises than others are,” Wissmann explained. From Fücks’ perspective, the automotive industry would only have a future if it drastically reduced its consumption of environmental resources. “The goal must be to reduce emissions from motor traffic towards zero,” he said.
Over 300 participants are expected to attend the congress. The programme includes numerous forums on topics such as alternative drive train technologies, road safety, raw materials, IT and networking, cars and emotion, location-related issues, research and development, training, and freight traffic. A final discussion is dedicated to the “Future of the German automotive industry.” The speakers include experts from the automotive industry, Deutsche Bahn (German railways), the trade union IG Metall, academics, and experts from the German Green Party.
VDA – Press Department
Tel.: +49 30 897842-120
Heinrich Böll Foundation
Tel.: +49 30 28534-217