German minister urges carmakers to invest more in e-mobility

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has said he doesn't understand why domestic carmakers have been so slow to invest in the development and production of electric cars. He called it a big strategic mistake.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier on Monday called on the nation's top carmakers to invest a lot more in electric vehicle technology. Otherwise, he told Germany's mass-circulation Bild daily, it would be impossible to keep up with global competitors in the long run.

He said domestic auto manufacturers needed to pump high "two-digit-billion-euro amounts" into the development and production of e-cars, adding that he did not understand why the firms had hesitated for so long.

Altmaier insisted more investments were also required in battery production, given expected demand for many millions of them around the globe as e-mobility was taking shape.

"Otherwise, we'll have to accept that a large part of the added value will be produced in Asia or the United States, instead of here with us," the minister argued.

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Business | 06.03.2018

The road to e-mobility

'Where's our own Tesla?'

Altmaier said German companies should also work with other European firms to develop battery cell production. Several firms including Bosch only recently announced their retreat from such a project, saying that it would be too risky and too costly.

The German car industry, which employs some 800,000 people, is still struggling with a global backlash against diesel vehicles after Volkswagen admitted in 2015 that it had manipulated emissions tests.

VW, Daimler and others have since stepped up their e-mobility programs, also with a view to meeting quotas in China, the world's most important car market.

The new German coalition government plans to ease the tax burden on drivers of electric cars and provide at least an additional 100,000 charging stations across the country to push a shift to greener transportation. So far, though, buyers of available low-range e-cars have proven hard to find.

Altmaier concluded that Germany needed to develop a model "that has at least the range of a Tesla, but costs less."

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Crossover SUV in 5th place

Tesla sold 33,000 units of its Model X in 2017, according to data from UK-based market researcher JATO Dynamics. That puts the mid-sized luxury car with falcon wing doors in 5th position in the list of last year's best-selling fully electric cars.

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Tiny and a bit whimsical, but ...

...successful nonetheless was the Zotye Zhidou (ZD) from China. Some 42,000 units of the model were shipped last year, with the tiny vehicles becoming increasingly popular in the Asian nation where affordablility can be a universal selling point.

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Turning over a new leaf

Japanese carmaker Nissan introduced its Nissan Leaf back in 2010, banking on e-mobility at an early stage. The five-door hatchback proved the third most sold all-electric vehicle in 2017 (46,000 units). Leaf batteries can be charged to 80-percent capacity in 30 minutes.

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Where acceleration matters

Tesla Model S cars are able to pick up speed very rapidly thanks to their all-electric powertrain technology. The vehicle features autopilot capabilities, making driving safer and less stressful. Some 47,000 people bought the Model S last year — only one model reached even more buyers.

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And the winner is ...

...China's BAIC EC. The compact electric city vehicle has fared well especially in its home market due to its trendy design and an improved range of 200 kilometers (125 miles) per charge. A record 78,000 units left the showrooms in 2017.

hg/jbh (Reuters, AFP)