The German automotive industry has set a new record for its expenditure on research and development for the fourth time in succession. In 2012 manufacturers and suppliers spent a total of 23.5 billion euro (including external expenditure). That represents a rise of nearly 6 per cent compared with last year.
This means that the automotive industry accounts foraround one third of all industrial research investments in Germany. Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), said, “No other sector invests as much in research and development. Our manufacturers and suppliers are the number one drivers of innovation. We also expect an increase in investment in research and development during the current year, as our companies are spending considerable amounts on electric mobility and connectivity. Our manufacturers and suppliers know that the spirit of innovation is the key to long-term success and secures jobs in Germany.”
These latest R&D data are based on a survey by the “Stifterverband” (the business community's innovation agency for the German science system). According to the figures, employment has also risen at the companies’ research and development departments. In all, 93,500 people are employed in this field within the automotive industry. This puts the automotive industry’s proportion of all R&D engineers in the country (367,400 employees) at one quarter. Wissmann stated, “We are delighted that the number of employees at the research and development departments in the German automotive industry has climbed by 3 per cent. That is an encouraging sign for Germany as a location for innovation.”
Around half of all R&D spending flowed into environmental technologies, Wissmann added. Work was continuing on a broad front to advance fuel-saving drive trains – ranging from the clean diesel and the direct injection petrol engine to plug-in hybrids, purely electric vehicles, hydrogen power and fuel cells. “In so doing, the manufacturers and suppliers are making a valuable contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. Today we already have 585 models on offer that require less than 5 litres of fuel to travel 100 kilometres. Two years ago we didn’t even have half that number. And 62 models from our manufacturers consume less than 4 litres,” the VDA president emphasised.