The Customer as a Factor of Uncertainty

Car Industry Looking for Buyers of Electric Cars

| Author/ Editor: dpa / Alexander Stark

Opinions on the question of whether electrified cars can be sold successfully differ significantly. FCA, for example, is skeptical: The manufacturer prefers the path of low costs - this can also include fines for climate-damaging exhaust gases.

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At the Geneva Motor Show, the manufacturers presented their new hybrid cars and near-series e-car studies.
At the Geneva Motor Show, the manufacturers presented their new hybrid cars and near-series e-car studies.
( Source: Sven Prawitz )

In the coming years, German carmakers will continue to rely on the sale of millions of electric cars - above all to avoid high fines for violating EU climate targets. At the Geneva Motor Show the companies presented many new hybrid cars and near-series e-car studies - but the expectations of whether the customer will buy them differed widely. Time is pressing, because in 2021, tougher rules from Brussels will take effect.

BMW and Audi are Optimistic

BMW boss Harald Krüger and Audi boss Bram Schot are very optimistic. Anyone who has ever driven an electric car is enthusiastic and won't give it away again. 80 % of customers wanted to buy an e-car again, Krüger said. "The reaction of dealers and customers is extremely positive," said Schot. Audi wants to make fully electric driving more affordable for broader customer groups by offering the compact SUV Q4 E-tron. In Geneva, the manager presented the near-series model of the car to be built next year for the first time.

Still Daimler Boss Zetsche is Skeptical

Dieter Zetsche was more skeptical. Both the current head of Daimler and Krüger were optimistic that the CO2 targets for 2021 would be met. However, the customers would also have to play along. "I believe that it is also evident from the previous offers that electromobility is in principle more expensive than comparable vehicles with internal combustion engines," said Zetsche. Of course, Daimler has a plan - but whether the customers buy the vehicles and whether the infrastructure for charging these cars grows with the range, couldn’t be influenced very much by the carmakers.

The German car industry had to quickly develop broader groups of buyers in order to avoid penalties for emission violations, said Bernhard Mattes, President of the German Automobile Association, in Geneva. "We are rolling out the range of electric cars across all segments, including compact and mid-size cars," he said. "If we only covered the upper class, we wouldn't be able to meet our CO2 targets."

German Manufacturers Don’t Want to Leave the Field to Tesla

For the period after 2021, the EU has already made further specifications. In order to reduce CO2 emissions by 37.5 % between 2021 and 2030, every second new car in Germany must be electrified, Mattes said. German manufacturers wouldn’t leave the field to Tesla: In the case of electrified vehicles, they had a 46 % market share in Europe. The companies have just invested 40 billion euros and will offer 100 E-models in three years.

VW Wants to Establish the MEB as the Standard for E-Mobility

The VW group wants to sell a quarter of its cars as hybrid or pure electric cars by 2025. The fact that other car manufacturers can use VW's MEB electric platform for their cars is intended to reduce the overall costs of e-mobility. “The MEB is to be established as the standard for e-mobility", said VW CEO Herbert Diess in Geneva - and announced a first partner: The electric vehicle manufacturer E.Go of the Aachen professor Günther Schuh wants to use the e-technology of VW. Even small-series vehicles with a small number of units can be built easily and cost-effectively, Diess said.

FCA Ready to Pay Fines if Necessary

The car manufacturer Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), on the other hand, wants to accept fines for climate-damaging exhaust gases if this is cheaper than high investments in electric cars. "We're taking the road of the lowest costs," said FCA boss Mike Manley. The question is whether the customers will buy e-cars. Today, sales in Europe are very low. But if the market demands it, Fiat Chrysler would also build them. Only in one year the group wants to launch two Jeeps as hybrids and afterwards an electrified Alfa Romeo SUV. It remains to be seen whether a fully electric Fiat compact car, which was presented as a concept car at the trade fair, will go into series production at all. The Fiat-Chrysler boss and successor to the late Sergio Marchionne was also open to partnerships - or more. If a cooperation, partnership or merger is on the horizon, he wants to consider it.

VDA Boss Mattes Warns of Job Losses

The President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), Bernhard Mattes, warned of drastic job cuts in the wake of the transition to e-cars. "If the additional jobs from electromobility are offset, there are still 75,000 jobs at risk," Mattes told the German television station Phoenix. "In this respect, it is crucial that we take the right steps during the transformation in order to train people for the new jobs and to create employment".

As of 2021: Exhaust Emission Limits of 95 Grams of CO2 per Kilometer

In 2021, the newly registered cars of car manufacturers in the EU will have to comply with emission limits of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer on average. For every gram more, harsh penalties loom. Depending on the size of the vehicle, however, different limit values may apply for different car manufacturers.

Recently, the so-called CO2 fleet value at Daimler, for example, had risen noticeably due to the declining diesel share. Daimler does not expect the value to fall significantly until 2020, when the production of purely electric cars should have got off to a good start. The other car manufacturers have yet to publish their fleet values for 2018.

This article was first published by Automobil Industrie.

Original: Maximiliane Reichhardt / Translation: Alexander Stark

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