Germany’s E-Mobile Valley

The automotive metropolis of Stuttgart is spearheading a shift from gasoline and diesel toward electricity and hydrogen. Companies from the field of e-mobility can capitalize on the restructuring that is taking place in Baden-Württemberg, for example as suppliers to car makers.

March 2020

Baden-Württemberg is regarded within Germany as a state of inventors – this going right back to its long history of car manufacturing. Back in the mid-1860s, working only 100km apart, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz built the first carriages equipped with an engine – the forerunner of the automobile – in Baden-Württemberg. Around 130 years later, the days of the combustion engine are numbered: Daimler has already announced that it will no longer invest any more money in combustion engine research and development (R&D).

R&D investment

Large investments, however, are being made by the industry to ensure cars are fit for the low-carbon future. In 2017, around 60 percent of Germany’s R&D spending from the manufacturing and service sectors went into vehicle construction according to an analysis by the Stifterverband think tank. Companies in the Stuttgart region account for half of the state’s total R&D expenditure. For automotive companies investing around Stuttgart, the proximity to their suppliers and customers, the rich R&D environment and the large pool of specialized workers are major advantages. “All sectors for new, climate-friendly and networked mobility solutions are represented here. There are car manufacturers, vehicle engineers, IT specialists, mechanical engineers and specialists from the energy industry,” says Isabell Knüttgen from the “e-mobil BW” business development agency. “The high concentration of specialist knowledge enables companies to be highly innovative, which is clearly evident in the automotive sector.” Knüttgen believes the region will play a big role in shaping the change toward electromobility: “Stuttgart will remain the innovation leader in the field of car construction.”

Porsche is one of the prestigious carmakers in the Baden-Württemberg industrial cluster. Pictured is a model of Semper Vivus, Ferdinand Porsche’s racing car from around 1900, the first ever hybrid-electric drive. Today, Porsche are powering the e-mobility revolution with their latest models. © Rene Fluger, dpa picture alliance

Stuttgart’s Finnish connection

Finnish development and manufacturing service provider Valmet Automotive has two locations near Stuttgart. In 2019, the company set up a battery test center at one of the sites. “The test competence available at the location was ultimately the decisive factor in locating the center here,” says Robert Hentschel, managing director of Valmet Automotive Engineering. The Finns have been working with Daimler for years and supply parts for the production of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class among other products. Hentschel wants to link up with the Stuttgart “e-mobil” initiative and be an active partner in the industry’s development and future success.

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