Merkel’s ‘car summit’ addresses carmakers’ rather than society’s problems – commentary
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ‘car summit’ this week was too narrowly focussed on electric mobility and industry interests, writes Dieter Fockenbrock in a commentary for the business daily Handelsblatt. “There is a danger that this is only about the problems of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen,” writes Fockenbrock. “But actually, the car companies should question their own business model. Do we still need mass manufacturers in the future, who dump millions of new cars on the market every year? The companies are pretending to just replace the combustion engine with an electric drive and everything would be fine.” Fockenbrock argues the real question is how to reduce and optimise traffic while making people more mobile.
According to the car industry lobby group VDA, ‘car summit’ participants have agreed to work out a “master plan” to improve charging infrastructure in order to reduce obstacles to the rollout of electric vehicles. Decisions are to be taken in a further meeting in autumn. Fockenbrock says the agreement suggests building charging infrastructure with state support is the most important task at hand. But he warns: “The government should hold back and not do the car industry’s bidding. Since when are filling stations (whether fuel or electricity) a government affair?”
Germany’s influential carmakers have all announced ambitious plans to increase the share of e-cars in their product portfolio over the next years. They have called on the government to support the shift through buyer’s premiums for e-cars, tax rebates and by building a dense network of charging stations. The government is under pressure to bring about changes in the transport sector, which has not significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.