The twilight of combustion comes for Germany’s empire of engines
The transition to electric mobility is an arduous and dangerous challenge for German carmakers, reports Elisabeth Behrmann in a feature for Bloomberg Businessweek. Using BMW’s example, Behrmann looks into the consequences for the company, employees, suppliers, and the national economy. “The nation that invented the heart of the car at the dawn of the 20th century might struggle to adapt to the coming electric era,” writes Behrmann. “The end of internal combustion, combined with a decline in worldwide car ownership, could bring about an overhaul of the world’s fourth-biggest economy.”
German carmakers BMW, Daimler and VW have announced ambitious plans to convert car production step-by-step to electric cars. VW has gone furthest with targets – called a “game changer for the industry” by environmental NGOs – to make 22 million electric cars in the coming decade and go entirely carbon-neutral by 2050. Because production of electric engines is much simpler than making combustion motors, and because carmakers use imported battery cells, the shift to electric mobility could sharply reduce the number of jobs in the sector. The car industry currently employs around 800,000 people in Germany.