German Automakers Fall Behind

SchaufensterBetween 2013 and 2016, HZwei – and later also H2-international – provided readers with regular, detailed updates on the activities of the Electromobility Showcase program. The 145 projects that were part of this program were accompanied by research and monitoring to coordinate, analyze and publish results and have led to a final report consisting of 322 pages.

In the report, the authors lament that “overall, the electric vehicle options available on the market remain insufficient to satisfy the requirements of potential customers.“ They add: “German automakers focus on plug-in hybrids, whereas they do not offer any kind of purely electric vehicle in a segment as popular as the medium-size car one.“ Regarding infrastructure needs, they consider it “essential to set up fast-charge stations along freeways and highways immediately.“ They estimate public demand in 2020 to be around 36,000 for normal refills and 7,000 for fast charging. By contrast, the country showed only 5,836 normal and 153 fast-charge points by the end of last year. They also criticize the fact that “Germany has so far not witnessed the emergence of any sustainable business models for operating a refueling infrastructure.”

Currently, the authors don’t see Germany playing a lead role: “German carmakers have fallen dramatically behind businesses such as BYD, Tesla, Mitsubishi and Nissan on the global electric vehicle market. Expectations are that the picture will not change significantly during market ramp-up over the next years.” The institute’s recommendation is to offer electric vehicles primarily in the commercial sector and as part of car-share offers for the time being. Later, they expect that the automotive industry “will undergo considerable restructuring,“ meaning that “ the global share of electric vehicle sales will presumably grow from 9 percent to 31 percent between 2020 and 2030.“ And: “The disruptive nature of [Germany’s] energy transformation can offer SMEs and start-ups new market opportunities, but will likely have a negative impact on automotive suppliers from the metal processing industry.“ Additionally, most of the authors share the opinion that “electric vehicles are not less safe than ones based on combustion engines.“

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