published on January 13, 2020 |
from Steve Hanley
January 13, 2020 against Steve Hanley
Germany’s National Platform for the Future of Mobility (NPM) has issued a report claiming that the German automotive industry could lose up to 410,000 jobs between now and 2030 as a result of changes in the way people move from point to point in the future A come to point B, especially if more electric cars are being built instead of petrol or diesel cars. That finding has been spread in the headlines all over the world, from Reuters to CNBC to The New York Times. But what is behind those headlines? CleanTechnica decided to take a look.
Let’s start by finding out who the NPM is and what it does. That’s how it describes itself on its website.
Our mobility is undergoing a transition and major changes will be required in the coming years. Prosperity, growth and technological developments lead to a more mobile society and new mobility options. At the same time, achieving the energy and climate targets of the German federal government will be a central task in the coming years.
To shape this change, the federal government has convened the National Platform for the Future of Mobility. The purpose of the NPM is to develop paths that cross and link transport modes for a largely greenhouse gas neutral and environmentally friendly transport system that enables efficient, high-quality, flexible, available, safe, resilient and affordable mobility for both passenger and freight transport.
Henning Kagermann, chairman of the steering committee for NPM / CNP, says: “We are thinking about mobility in a holistic and cross-modal way – to show how our transport system in Germany can be shaped to become climate-friendly, sustainable and affordable in the future, while ensuring that Germany maintains competitiveness as a production location. “
Okay. Not a bunch of radicals with wild eyes, but a group created by the German government to help her understand what the future might look like and how they can plan for the coming changes. Seems to be a logical, reasonable and appropriate way for the leaders of a large country to behave.
Building on earlier research
In 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute and the Labor Market and Professional Research Institute published reports suggesting that employment in the German car industry would fall considerably by 2030. Those studies started with the assumption that 25% of all cars produced in Germany by that date would be electric, with a further 15% plug-in hybrids.
But that assumption is too low if Germany wants to meet its emission reduction targets from its transport sector. So the latest projections now assume that 30% of new cars will be battery-electric by 2030. Electric power lines have far fewer components than internal combustion drives and are suitable for automated production.
Currently, around 270,000 German workers make engines and transmissions. NAB estimates that the switch to electric cars will reduce that number by around 88,000, according to a Handelsblatt report. But there is more to making cars than to powertrains. It includes subcontractors and suppliers, metal stamps and technical personnel. In an extreme case, 410,000 jobs are at stake when mobility changes occur, of which 240,000 in vehicle construction alone, according to the latest NPM report.
That’s why we have the screaming heads. 410,000 lost jobs! And all because of those new-baked electric cars! We have to run and tell the king! The reality is more nuanced. The NPM forecasts are based on all possible changes in mobility, including more driving and sharing platforms and more autonomous vehicles.
The rest of the story
The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) strongly disagrees with the NPM analysis. “The assumption that up to 410,000 jobs could be lost in the coming years is based on an unrealistic extreme scenario,” Kurt-Christian Scheel, Managing Director, told Handelsblatt. He disputes the NPM assumption that most electric cars and batteries for the German market come from abroad. “These assumptions do not apply,” says Scheel.
The VDA agrees that there will be far fewer jobs in the assembly of engines and transmissions. The challenge is to identify new employment opportunities and business model restructuring, the NPM report suggests. “In order for Germany to remain strong as a production location for the automotive industry and to provide employment, important networks with added value for the drive technology of the future, such as batteries, power electronics, fuel cells, must be maintained or built as fully as possible in Germany and its European environment. ”, Henning Kagerman tells Handlesblatt.
The Volkswagen example
Volkswagen tries to stay ahead of the corner. Although it will reduce part of its production and engine manufacturing activities, it is also expanding its IT activities and expects to add 6,000 IT engineers in the coming years.
The only constant in life is change. Sometimes those changes can be painful. Not everyone who cut spokes for wagon wheels found work at the Henry Ford factories when the Conestoga wagon industry collapsed. Some governments are thinking of ways to minimize the pain of technological change. Others follow the changes. Of the two approaches, Germany appears to be the preferred option.
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About the author
Steve Hanley Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else where the Singularity can lead him. You can follow him on Twitter, but not on social media platforms of malicious overlords such as Facebook.