Do we still need cars?
Many people in Germany are worried about climate change and wish more were being done to halt it. We share these concerns. But, at the same time, many people rely on a car. According to a recent survey carried out by the Allensbacher Institut three quarters of Germans could not live without a car.
This is especially true of the working population. A car is often not only the most convenient mode of transport, but, according to the same survey, public transport connections are too poor, distances in the country are too great or the cost of switching to another form of transport too high for a third of those interviewed in each case.
Of course many people could dispense with the car and seek alternatives. And we recognize that. But those people who are forced to rely on the car also deserve some respect. These are mainly those people living in the country, families with children or those who are too old to cover large distances on foot or by bike. And for these people individual mobility needs to remain feasible and affordable in future, too. This is where the car plays an important part.
An abrupt departure from the car and combustion engines would deal a heavy blow to the economy, society and employment in Germany. The automotive industry is the country’s most important economic sector. In Germany, 4.7 percent of the gross value added and 13 percent of industrial added value is generated by the automotive industry.
The sector also plays an important role for logistics and the numerous companies reliant on transportation. In plain terms: Anything that cannot be transported, cannot be manufactured or sold. And much of this transportation is carried out by truck – many of which are made by German manufacturers.
If we were to suddenly dispense with the car, or vehicles in general, we would thus also jeopardize the German economy. And with it hundreds of thousands of jobs as well as the greater social cohesion. Around 1.75 million people in Germany, i.e. some four percent of all those employed, are directly or indirectly connected to the automotive sector. More than 830,000 people in Germany work directly for companies in the industry. And these companies are responsible for upholding the jobs.
The German automotive industry is working hard to reach the target of making traffic CO2 neutral by 2050. To this end, we are developing alternative and emission-free drives, as well as even more efficient combustion engines that are still needed during the transitional phase to carbon-neutral mobility. On the way to sustainable and long-term environmentally friendly mobility we also have to consider social factors alongside the ecological and economical aspects. This is why we believe that dispensing with the car is not a solution.
 acatech/IfD Allensbach, „Mobilität und Klimaschutz“, May 2019.