E-mobilty: 'Invest or lose out'

The development of electric cars and battery production are crucial for carmakers, says Economy Minister Peter Altmaier.

E-mobilty: 'Invest or lose out'

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.

'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."

hg/jbh (Reuters, AFP)