Germany to invest heavily in electric and autonomous driving

04 March 2019

Germany to invest heavily in electric and autonomous driving

4 March 2019

The German car industry is to invest around €58 billion over the next three years on electric vehicles (EVs) and autonomous driving, according to the VDA.

Increasing the number of EVs on the country’s roads is pivotal to reach ambitious goals on CO2 emissions set by the European Commission. However, there needs to be a boost in Germany’s charging infrastructure to enable a smooth transition between internal combustion and electric powertrains, VDA president Bernhard Mattes suggested.

‘[In the next three years] the range of electric models from German OEMs would treble to around 100,’ he explained. ‘The ramp-up of electric mobility is coming in Europe. Without it, the EU’s CO2 targets cannot be achieved by 2030. However, this also demands the appropriate regulatory conditions – right across Europe. A look at the differences in per capita GDP in the EU clearly shows that Germany, together with a few other large countries, must have a much higher proportion of electric vehicles among its new registrations than the EU average. The charging infrastructure must, therefore, be resolutely expanded, combined with incentives for the buyers of e-cars.’

Speaking on the eve of the Geneva International Motor Show, Mattes suggested that around €40 billion would be invested by the automotive industry in Germany to ensure it meets emissions targets. However, this could affect carmakers financially, with expected payoffs from the technology not expected for several years. The current European market for EVs is still very small compared to petrol and diesel engines.

Mattes also said that industry would invest around €18 billion in connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technologies. ‘OEMs are mutating into manufacturers and mobility service providers. This shift comes with considerable investment, especially in IT and software. As these technologies develop very rapidly, new multi-sector cooperative projects are worthwhile and necessary,’ Mattes underscored. However, he added, the industry also depended on an internationally competitive digital infrastructure. ‘For this, we need total coverage with a dynamic 5G network on all traffic routes,’ he said.

Collaborations are already starting to take place in the industry. BMW and Daimler recently announced the details behind its new joint car-sharing business, while the two rivals are also pooling their resources on autonomous vehicle development. BMW is working with Fiat Chrysler, supplier Delphi and technology company Mobileye amongst others, and Volkswagen is in discussions with Ford over investing in Argo, the US carmaker’s driverless technology company.

Speaking about German representation at Geneva, Mattes concludes: ‘The progress our manufacturers will demonstrate at Geneva is remarkable – particularly in electric mobility, but also in digitisation – on ‘neutral territory’ on the shores of Lake Geneva. This will include new battery-electric models, plug-in hybrids and concept cars. In the future, the most advanced connectivity will provide drivers with a large number of service-oriented ‘assistants’ to support them in all sorts of ways. The German OEMs have brought many innovations to Geneva.’