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Electromobility: car boss with vision – economy

VW boss Herbert Diess is right: German manufacturers have to radically switch to e-cars. Immediately. Otherwise China will do the big business.

Comment by Joachim Becker

In self-confidence, one could also say of complacency, it can hardly accommodate any other industry with the auto industry. Anyone who enters billions in profits for many years and offers hundreds of thousands of jobs is happy to claim a special status. In the fine club, the car manufacturer argues, at most, behind closed doors, while the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) keeps the ranks strictly closed to the outside. But now an open policy dispute has broken out: VW against all others.

Herbert Diess, the VW CEO, wants a radical change towards electromobility. Politicians, companies and society all have to concentrate their energies – and therefore also a large part of their financial resources – on electric mobility as the leading technology of the future, he demands. From the VDA Diess opposes open resistance, the other German manufacturers go at a distance, and yet: This pursues the right strategy.

Automotive industry push by VW splits politics and auto industry

Advance of VW splits politics and auto industry

Volkswagen demands from the federal government new subsidies for e-cars. But the resistance is growing.By Markus Balser and Michael Bauchmüller, Berlin

The electric drive is still a niche. Currently the Stromer have a market share of just under two percent in Germany. This wants to change that, he wants to quickly create a critical mass of affordable e-cars. According to VW calculations, this could cost 100,000 jobs for manufacturers and suppliers in Germany. No wonder then that the VDA does not feel like going to the barricades for climate protection.

With niche solutions, the world's largest automaker can not exhaust its factories

But this has good reasons. He is not the boss of a start-up, but runs a company with 650,000 jobs. With niche solutions, the world's largest automaker can not exhaust its factories. He has to launch mass-marketed products. Because not exclusive premium vehicles, but low-priced e-cars decide whether the mobility turnaround succeeds. And when building such Stromer, the Chinese set the pace. There, the turnaround is prescribed by quota, flanked by economic aid and a massive expansion of the charging infrastructure. Such dirigiste action can be revolting, it undoubtedly constitutes a distortion of competition. But they create a market and thus secure jobs.

From the electric boom in China, the German manufacturers will benefit. For her, China has long been the largest single market. With its top-down transformation, the country could quickly become the biggest threat to the German auto industry. The Chinese automakers have caught up unnoticed by the German public – the technically relatively simple electromobility offers them the opportunity to overtake: High volumes are the best means to make the Stromer cheaper and thus competitive with conventional cars.

This has apparently recognized this. He is therefore right to radically rebuild the VW Group. By 2030, every second group vehicle is to run purely electrically. This sounds utopian from a German point of view, but this is the right way to stand up to the aggressors from China. Of course, Diess also pursues its own corporate interests, but it's good that finally a car push on the pace. The German auto industry, just like politics, has been wasting far too much time on the subject of electromobility.

"We are and will remain tough competitors"

BMW CEO Harald Krüger on healthy competition and alliances. He excludes a cross-shareholding with Daimler.Interview by Max Hägler


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