On Jan. 30, the German Automotive Industry Association, or VDA for short, elected a new president. By unanimous vote, Bernhard Mattes was chosen to head the Berlin-based organization. On March 1, he took over for Matthias Wissmann, president since June 2007, whose contract had expired. Mattes was the chairman of Ford-Werke between 2002 and 2016. He was also a member of the VDA’s board of directors during that time and served as the association’s vice president from 2002 through 2004.
Arndt G. Kirchhoff, the current vice president of the VDA and CEO of Kirchhoff Automotive Holding, said that the decision on Mattes had the backing of all three groups of automotive companies whose representatives were sitting on the board of directors and the executive committee. One reason why the association was such a strong voice for the industry was that it represented both automakers and suppliers. It was a constellation with which Mattes was very familiar, as he had been with the VDA for many years.
Asked about the association’s plans, Mattes said that the automotive industry was on the verge of a historic transformation, driven largely by the electrification of vehicles, growing digitization, advances in autonomous driving and new transportation modes, but also by the challenges of further reducing fuel consumption and GHG emissions. The aim was to guarantee and raise the global competitiveness of an industry that was of paramount importance to the success of the German manufacturing sector.