Make Germany more competitive Electric Mobility and Digitization Are Opportunities

VDA-Boss Bernhard Mattes wants that the German automotive industry become more competitive.
VDA-Boss Bernhard Mattes wants that the German automotive industry become more competitive: »Today’s success is no guarantee for tomorrow. Every individual company, large or small, will have to find technological responses to the challenges facing us.«

In addition to ever stricter CO2 regulations, the drivers of the automotive development are electric mobility, digitization, connected and automated driving, and new forms of urban mobility. However, these factors were forcing some suppliers to modify and extend their existing product portfolios.

»In times of many new changing situations – political, economic and technological – policymakers are required more than ever to make Germany more competitive as an industrial location. This year the German automotive industry will produce 11.2 million passenger cars abroad, which for the first time will be twice the number of vehicles built at home. Three out of four cars we build here in Germany are destined for export. So growth, prosperity and employment are closely linked with free access to the markets. We therefore view with concern the increasing protectionist tendencies in important regions. In addition, the regulatory conditions in Germany must be improved. For example, we need responses to rising energy costs in Germany. And we need responses to the US tax reform, because it puts Germany and Europe at a regional disadvantage. It is good that the German coalition agreement places necessary investments in the infrastructure and key technologies, such as electric mobility, digitization and automated and connected driving, at the top of the agenda for this parliamentary session. Now this has to be realized rapidly and sustainably,« said Bernhard Mattes, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (Verband der Automobilindustrie, VDA).

FAST2030 study sees global automotive market remaining on growth path

Mattes added that over recent years the German automotive industry had continually pushed up its sales worldwide. However, he said, the companies were by no means resting on the currently good economic situation. »They are investing heavily in new technologies – in powertrains just as in connected and automated driving. The German automotive supply industry in particular is in a position of strength owing to its consistent internationalization. This also creates the right conditions for tackling the new challenges in a competitive environment that is becoming tougher,« Mattes explained.

He drew attention to the results of the third study entitled »Future Automotive Industry Structure – FAST2030« conducted jointly by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman and the VDA, which was presented at the SME Day for the first time. It examines the most important technology trends and their impacts on the value chain, and shows how automotive suppliers can maintain their position even in turbulent times.

»The automotive industry remains on a path of growth,« Mattes said. According to the FAST2030 study, global production of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, which totaled around 95 million units in 2017, would rise to 123 million by 2030 – an increase of around 30 percent. Automotive value-added would therefore also rise, adjusted for inflation, by 30 percent to over 1.1 trillion euros. However, this growth was associated with considerable structural changes – regional, technological and economic.

The study predicts that in 2030 electric cars (BEVs) will make up about one quarter of the global passenger car market, while the proportion of hybrid vehicles will rise to 37 percent. Yet the pressure will not come solely from technical developments. Local procurement quotas of up to 80 or 90 percent depending on the manufacturer, and global platforms, will force automotive suppliers to be even more active in other countries if they are to remain in the business.

According to the study, in 2030 Europe will still account for 50 percent of all value-added (56 percent in 2017) and continue to dominate the premium segment, while China’s share of the premium segment will climb from 13 percent to 20 percent. So suppliers will have to adopt a more international orientation.

»Electric mobility is a game changer. Only a few years ago, battery-electric propulsion was seen as a niche product. But now we expect that in 2025, 15 to 25 percent of the global passenger car fleet will be electric. That is a very fast change for both large and small suppliers,« he said.

However, in line with its broad-based strategy, the German automotive industry was not putting all its eggs in one basket. »Alongside the alternative powertrains, we are continuing to optimize the internal combustion engine, and researching petroleum-independent e-fuels that represent an exciting option for climate-neutral mobility. And modern diesels are part of the solution, not part of the problem, because they have up to 25 percent lower consumption and up to 15 percent lower CO2 emissions per kilometer than comparable gasoline vehicles. That is a decisive advantage particularly for larger vehicles with high annual mileages, and from a climate-policy perspective,« Mattes underscored.