"The future of the German automotive industry. Transformation by disaster or by design?"

New concepts of digital mobility from China and Silicon Valley and the issue of environmental driving bans for diesel cars pose grave challenges to the traditional German car industry - the backbone of the German economy. German policies must support the transformation of mobility by initiating a stakeholder dialogue to forge a pact for future mobility to transform the German automotive industry.

Image: Luca Oleastri – stock.adobe.com

Across the world, the established models of the automotive industry of the 20th century are increasingly dissolving. The enormous implications of that shift on economic, employment, and innovation policies have put the automotive industry in Germany and Europe under pressure. This is happening at a time when the industry is on an expansion course, with rising sales, growing employment, and increasing exports.

Our mobility is undergoing change from strong and globally relevant megatrends, new mobility needs in urbanising transport markets, and hitherto unknown forms of competition, for instance from the up-and-coming IT sector, but also from China's industrial policy objectives. The concomitant trends towards electrification, networking, automation, and sharing are revolutionising the automotive industry and will lead to a new form of automobility. Fossil-fuel based propulsion is being replaced by electromotive motors and batteries; the notion of driving the car yourself is being replaced by concepts of assisted, automated, and autonomous driving, and ownership is being replaced by a digital platform ecology with new business models and forms of distribution.

The cumulative effect of those developments on the automotive industry in Germany and Europe has been dramatic changes in supply and demand, which have cast doubt on previous business models. These transformation processes can no longer be managed with automotive policy regulation and internal corporate self-transformation. Governments, companies, trade unions, and consumers must work together to promote change in the automotive sector. That can only succeed with a mobility pact for the future that combines entrepreneurial, political, and social strategies with the aim of transforming transport in society as a whole.

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