Press Releases

Unswerving commitment to improving road safety

Berlin, 30 April 2014

Dr Erika Emmerich, former VDA President, reaches 80

Dr Erika Emmerich, former President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), reached her 80th birthday on 4 May, 2014. From 1989 to 1996 she spearheaded the association that represents the interests of German automotive manufacturers and suppliers.

Erika Emmerich was born in Magdeburg, and studied law along with other subjects in Berlin, Hamburg and Bonn. She earned her doctorate in law in 1964. From 1965 to 1983 she worked in the Federal Ministry of Transport in Bonn, her last post being that of Regierungsdirektorin. In February 1983 she became President of Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (the KBA in Flensburg).

In 1988 Dr Emmerich became the first woman to be appointed President of the VDA and took up her new position on 1 January 1989. Her period in office included the crisis years of 1992 and 1993, which necessitated extensive restructuring of this key industry. Dr Emmerich’s huge commitment and great sensitivity were crucial in putting the manufacturer-supplier relationship on a new footing. This created the basis for continued growth in the German automotive industry, which today accounts for around one fifth of the world’s total vehicle market and nearly 80 per cent of the global premium market.

Under the aegis of Dr Emmerich, in 1995 a voluntary obligation was introduced to bring down the CO2 emissions from newly registered vehicles by 25 per cent by the year 2005. This national voluntary commitment was then fulfilled by the German automotive industry.

The improvements in road safety over many years and decades were due to the special commitment demonstrated by Dr Emmerich, exemplified by the VDA’s support for school crossing patrols and training in safe driving for young drivers purchasing new cars.

In 1994 Dr Emmerich was awarded the Ehrenzeichen in Gold (Badge of Honour in Gold) of the German road safety organisation Deutsche Verkehrswacht. Three years later she was made an honorary member of the Deutsche Verkehrswacht in recognition of her long-term work promoting greater road safety. In 1996 she was awarded the Goldener Dieselring (Golden Diesel Ring) by the Verband der Motorjournalisten (German association of motor journalists), and in 1997 she was decorated with the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit), First Class. In that year she also received the Grosses Ehrenzeichen (Grand Badge of Honour) from the German Chamber of Commerce in Austria for improving German-Austrian economic relations.

“Dr Emmerich led the VDA and did great service to the German automotive industry and improvements in road safety during periods that saw vast changes and German reunification. We congratulate her most heartily,” stressed VDA President Matthias Wissmann. He drew attention to the fact that Dr Emmerich still maintains close ties with the VDA even today.

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