“Today electric driving is no longer a vision, but a reality. Thousands of vehicles are already on our roads, and by the end of next year the German manufacturers will have at least 16 electrified series models on sale,” said Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), at the German Government’s International Conference entitled “Electric Mobility Going Global.” Wissmann said, “Every single vehicle development has cost many millions. With these investments the German manufacturers and suppliers are securing value-added and jobs in Germany. Germany has the opportunity to forge ahead in electric mobility because the home market offers considerable potential. If politics, business and science continue to pull together, we will have the best conditions for making Germany a core country for producing the automobiles of the future.”
The German automotive industry was driving its research activities forward at full steam, Wissmann added. “In the coming three to four years, our companies will invest around 12 billion euro in developing alternative drive trains. That represents 40 per cent of all investment in the transmission,” he said. By supporting the enormous research and development input of the industry with long-term support for universities, research institutes and pilot projects, the Government was strengthening Germany as a location for industry, science and business. “The funding flows into necessary pure research, the development of novel procedures, employee training and the creation of pilot plants. This type of research promotion has always been a classical task for the public sector,” the VDA president explained.
Wissmann went on to say that the market was at a low level, but recording high growth rates. For example, since 2007 sales of electrically powered vehicles had doubled every year. He underlined: “Under the right general conditions, the number of electric vehicles sold could be significantly increased in the coming years. For this reason it is now crucial to introduce the approved measures in a consistent manner and to commence the projects promptly.” Furthermore, he said, standardized European competitive conditions were just as necessary as a timetable for electric mobility for the coming years, to give the industry a reliable planning framework for its investments.
At the beginning, Wissmann explained, fleets were especially important for boosting electric mobility, because the entire company car segment accounted for around one third of all new passenger car registrations. “This is where we expect the first rise in demand. The compensation scheme launched for taxation on electric company cars should be implemented quickly, so that the Government, the federal states and the municipalities can procure large numbers, along with the private sector,” Wissmann said. “In addition, we are appealing for tax relief not only for users, but also for companies acquiring such vehicles, which are still quite expensive due to the high battery prices. The right approach here would be better depreciation options, to drive these investments forward.” Electric mobility was a genuine task for all sectors, according to Wissmann. “It will not be managed in a sprint, nor by going it alone. The challenge is to find a solution that is both sustainable and economically competitive, which satisfies the demands of our customers,” the VDA president said. He added that the showcase regions were contributing by making electric mobility visible and tangible for the users. The German Government has approved the creation of four “showcases” for testing driving in electric vehicles. These testing fields in Baden-Württemberg, Berlin/Brandenburg, Lower Saxony and Bavaria/Saxony will receive promotion totalling 180 million euro over a period of three years. They are intended to generate findings about user behaviour and the interplay between the various technologies in everyday use, and to test new business models. The research projects include the intelligent electrification of commercial fleets, networking mobility offers using IT, and the provision of a charging infrastructure for both rapid and normal public charging.
On the planned European CO2 Regulation currently being negotiated in Brussels, Wissmann said, “Intelligent regulation should stimulate and not strangulate. Applying super credits for especially economical vehicles to a manufacturer’s CO2 fleet average will advance development of these environmentally friendly technologies. In an intelligent form, these super credits are an effective instrument for promoting innovations, which does not cost the tax office anything and at the same time helps protect the environment.”