Of course, there are still significant challenges. “At this critical turning point, there are three things necessary in order to smooth the way to e-mobility,” Fermin Bustamante, head of German e-mobility at multinational power company Vattenfall, wrote in Handelsblatt newspaper: “Firstly, the sales of electric cars must rise exponentially, and there are positive signs this is happening. Secondly, a sufficient charging infrastructure is needed. And thirdly, charging infrastructure, cars and suppliers must all be seamlessly connected in order to make it as simple and efficient as possible for customers – so-called interoperability.”
The pressure to do all that, and quickly, is having a major transformative effect on the industry, say experts. Some changes may have a negative impact on employment. Electric drive trains, for example, only have about 200 parts as opposed to 1,200 for combustion engines, so they require fewer workers. But other disruptions create new opportunities.
An industry in flux
“At the moment, the auto industry is experiencing massive transformation,” confirms Peter Fuß, senior advisory partner for the automotive sector at consultancy EY Germany. “Things like electrification of power trains, autonomous driving and mobility services or connectivity demand completely new expertise in many different areas of technology. And that opens up enormous opportunities for new players to stake out their place in Germany’s automotive sector.”
“The competitiveness of the German auto industry and the security of jobs in Germany really depends on the success of e-mobility,” Henning Kagermann argues. And that “will depend strongly on whether the basic components – such as batteries – can be manufactured in Germany, rather than outside the country.” Furthermore, Kagermann doesn’t believe that e-mobility should be viewed as an issue that affects only the auto industry. “It is a key technology along the path to sustainable and integrated energy,” he argues.