EV uprising could cost jobs in Germany

16 July 2018

16 July 2018

Unless Germany’s automakers manage the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, they will face the consequence that comes with mass unemployment.

This is the stark warning that Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser has for the automotive industry. As carmakers look to push forward with aggressive electrification strategies in order to combat rising CO2 levels due to the fall of diesel sales, the development and research costs are expected to spiral.

′We’ll still have cars in the streets, but they won’t be electric, they’ll be burning,’ Kaeser told reporters late Monday. ′The success of Germany depends on this one industry.’

The switch to electric vehicles (EVs) will put 75,000 engine and gearbox manufacturing jobs in Germany at risk, according to a new study.

The country’s automotive industry accounts for 840,000 jobs, of which 210,000 are linked to powertrain production, according to a paper by the Fraunhofer Institute of Industrial Engineering, which agrees with Kaeser, saying that by 2030, the impact of manufacturers switching to electric drive could directly impact these jobs.

According to the findings, electrification and productivity, assuming the most likely developments, will result in the loss of around 75,000 jobs in Germany’s drive technology sector. This figure factors in the creation of some 25,000 new jobs for components such as batteries and power electronics.

′These results shouldn’t give us reason to panic,’ said Jörg Hofmann, chairman of Germany’s IG Metall union. ′The challenge we face is great, but not insurmountable if we create the right conditions now,’ he emphasised. Hofmann believes that this is where government and companies must step up.

′Policy makers and businesses need to take action now and develop strategies for dealing with the transformation. The government must support the necessary structural changes in the automotive industry by introducing targeted industrial and employment policies, while companies must make major requalification campaigns a top priority to ensure their employees are not left behind in the wake of the transition.’

Hofmann called on policymakers and companies to start introducing robust and sustainable strategies and proposals for tackling the issue without delay. ′We must use the next few years to set the necessary adjustment processes in motion, but we have to map out the route today.’

In the study, which was initiated by IG Metall, BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler, Robert Bosch, ZF Friedrichshafen, Schaeffler, Mahle International and the German Association of the Automotive Industry, researchers from Fraunhofer IAO examined the effects of electromobility on employment in three scenarios.

The focus is on a scenario in which by 2030 a quarter of all vehicles are powered by all-electric motors, 15% of vehicles are plug-in hybrids, and 60% have higher efficiency gasoline or diesel engines. Plug-in hybrids are particularly significant. Owing to the fact that they combine conventional and electric engine types, their impact is positive both in terms of climate and of employment. All scenarios are based on the assumption that the components for hybrid and all-electric vehicles are largely produced in Germany.