Baden-Württemberg is boosting future mobility

May 31, 2019

The State of Baden-Württemberg, situated in the South-West of Germany, is well known for its automotive industry and especially for the production of premium cars and engineering. Over the past 130 years, the region has gone from the cradle of the automobile industry to a major automotive ecosystem. Baden-Württemberg is one of the world’s leading centres of the automobile industry, with a fully developed ‘automotive sector’ that covers the entire value chain of automobile production, ancillary services and suppliers from the mechanical and plant engineering sectors. The three Baden-Württemberg-based manufacturers (OEMs) are classed as belonging to the premium segment, and numerous suppliers specialise in powertrains. In addition to that, many small and medium sized enterprises and hidden champions are situated in Baden-Württemberg.

In 2016, about 470,000 people were working directly or indirectly in the Baden-Württemberg automotive sector. This is equivalent to about 11 % of all employees with social insurance cover in the State of Baden-Württemberg.

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Electric mobility is a megatrend, which, along with connected vehicles, driverless cars and digitalised vehicle production is set to transform the way we use and manufacture vehicles over the next few years. The electrification of the powertrain, in particular, is changing existing value creation and employment structures in the automobile industry, as traditional components such as combustion engines lose significance, while new electric mobility components become more important. This transformation is being driven primarily by passenger car markets in Asia, with China being the prime mover. For Baden-Württemberg it is important to actively face this transformation and structural change and make use of its economic opportunities.

In order to support all involved stakeholders from industry and research in Baden-Württemberg in this transformation process, the State of Baden-Württemberg founded the State Agency for New Mobility Solutions and Automotive Baden-Würrtemberg – e-mobil BW in 2010. In a network with partners from industry, research and public institutions, it takes a hand in shaping the future for an automated, connected and electric mobility in a viable energy system. Open to all kind of technologies, e-mobil BW GmbH acts as a driver in the industrialisation, market launch and application of sustainable, climate compatible and locally zero-emission mobility solutions. To this effect, it strengthens the Land Baden-Württemberg as a centre for industrial and scientific innovation.

In addition to that, e-mobil BW is coordinating since 2010 the „Cluster Electric Mobility South-West“ (Cluster ESW). The cluster pools more than 140 stakeholders from industry and science. Sustainable electric mobility calls for new approaches and integrates solution elements of technology fields such as vehicle, energy, information and communications technologies (ICT) and production. The guiding concept of the Cluster ESW simultaneously stands for the automobile and mobility of the future. Connecting these industries through the cluster is the key to overcome numerous obstacles on the way to implement e-mobility. In the cluster, we succeed in joining up large, medium-sized and small companies across industries with research institutes to form a unique, sustainably grown and extremely stable cooperation network as well as speeding up research and development. The collaboration is driven by common projects, working groups and networking. In 2012, the cluster successfully participated in the Leading-edge Cluster Competition organized by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and secured additional funding for research projects on the development of large-scale electric vehicle production, the manufacturing process of future vehicles itself as well as charging technologies and IT solutions. 

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Logo Cluster Electric Mobility Soth-West – Foto: (c) e-mobil BW / KD Busch

In the new released study of e-mobil BW „Structural Study BWe mobil 2019“[1] the effects of the of the transformation process on the automotive industry in Baden-Württemberg was analysed. One of the main outcomes is, that the growth of the market for new components for electric mobility, and the parallel decline in demand for conventional components will, depending on the scenario, result in between a 1.9 % increase in overall employment (+8,900 jobs) and a 6.6 % cut in employment (-30,800 jobs) by 2030. These impacts on employment can be considered moderate for Baden-Württemberg’s automobile sector as a whole. However, this will only apply if the cluster is able to retain its worldwide leading role in innovation also for alternative powertrain technologies, and if it can obtain market shares for the new components comparable to their market shares in conventional components today. For this, concentrated efforts will be needed on the part of all actors in the sector, along with active industrial policy support to retain the special status of the Baden-Württemberg automotive cluster.

Although the positive and negative impacts on employment more or less offset one another for the sector as a whole, the impacts will be very unevenly distributed. The true impact of employment trends thus only becomes apparent when the single production plants in Baden-Württemberg that depend directly on the powertrain are taken into account, with a total workforce of 70,000 employees.

The transformation of Baden-Württemberg’s automotive industry as a whole will only be possible if corporate strategies and the flanking industry policy measures also take into account the imperatives of ensuring the sustainable development of Baden-Württemberg’s (manufacturing) sites and if employees are involved in the transformation. Baden-Württemberg’s place as a leading centre of industrial innovation must be secured.

This will only be possible if corporate as well as location and site strategies are geared to achieving this development goal. The strategies must be paired with the will on the part of the workforce to embrace change and have the support of the political level and of the science and research community. Ensuring lasting prospects of employment can be an important element in overcoming any reluctance on the part of the workforce to accept change. It is not the transition to electric mobility per se that could jeopardise the economic strength of Baden-Württemberg, but the failure to grasp the opportunity to shape the transition and actively develop the sector.

To understand the international trends in automotive industry, it is worthwhile to see the big picture. On the basis of the internationalisation strategy, the management of Cluster Electric Mobility South-West has developed a broad portfolio of activities, that supports the network partners from industry and academia in initiating and deepening their international business and cooperation relationships. Regular business missions with representatives from industry and academia significantly contribute to the visibility of the cluster organisation and its members, help to identify business and cooperation contacts and support the continuous evaluation of the international market position of the cluster.

Since 2011, delegations from Cluster Electric Mobility South-West have visited all leading economic locations identified in the internationalisation strategy. The visits have significantly contributed to the development of a broad knowledge about the international development of electric mobility and established cooperation contacts to major mobility innovation networks in Europe, North America and Asia.

As one the leading countries in the technological development and deployment of electric vehicles in Europe, France is an important target country in the internationalization strategy. Especially the regions of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Île-de-France are major centers for the development of future automotive technologies and innovative mobility concepts.

Since 2011, Cluster Electric Mobility South-West maintains an active partnership with the cluster CARA – European Cluster for Mobility Solutions that shapes the development of future transport solutions in the French region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Together with CARA, Cluster Electric Mobility South-West has initiated the cross-border project “German-French alliance for innovative mobility solutions (AllFraTech)” in 2017 to enhance the research and innovation partnership in the mobility sector between Baden-Württemberg and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The project extends the international cooperation network of Cluster Electric Mobility South-West by providing access to new technological expertise and cooperation opportunities as well as to strategic partnerships with other French technology clusters. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in the framework of the internationalization scheme “Internationalization of German Leading-Edge Clusters, Forward-Looking Projects and Comparable Networks”. Two joint research and development projects have been launched so far through this collaboration:

  • Efficient Modular Convenient Charging Platform (EMCC)
  • Innovative Predictive High Efficient Thermal Management System (InnoTherMS)

A third joint research and development project is in preparation At the same time, Cluster Electric Mobility South-West and CARA aim to initiate additional cross-border technology projects in other bilateral or European funding schemes.

In addition to that, the Cluster Electric Mobility South-West and e-mobil BW were strong partners in the organization committee of “30th International Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition (EVS30)” in Stuttgart, Germany. The cluster and its partners utilised the international platform to present results of the successful project period between 2012 and 2017 and to advance their vision for the upcoming years.

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Cluster Electric Mobility South-West is presenting its activities during EVS30, Source: e-mobil BW/KD Busch

An important factor to stay ahead is to be in touch with new topics and new technologies. As an example, in Baden-Württemberg there are numerous challenges to be solved in the transport sector. Many people are commuting to work every day. In the Region of Stuttgart (state capital and surroundings) for example, around 400,000 persons need to cover a certain distance between work place and home every day. The consequences are high volume of persons using the public transport and severe traffic jams on the streets in the metropolitan area. Apart from the bigger cities, Baden-Württemberg consists of many rural areas characterized by less public traffic connections. Especially in these areas efficient first mile solutions are needed, which present an acceptable alternative for the own car. Many municipalities in Baden-Württemberg face additional challenges with fine particles and NOx pollution. The European Commission sued Germany for abuse of regulatory limits with regards to nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The need for a sustainable and emission free mobility is rising sharply.

Light electric vehicles seem to be an interesting opportunity to solve some of the transport challenges. The field of light electric vehicles (LEV) is sparsely developed in Europe and in Baden-Württemberg, both in the industry and in the use on the streets. But LEVs might be a solution approach to diverse challenges in the region. In other countries worldwide, especially in Asia, LEVs are already quite popular and have spread widely. LEV offer new mobility concepts, especially for urban areas, with less parking space and more space for people. The LEV, which are small and quiet, can contribute to an improvement of quality of life.

Another important point for taking LEVs into account is the technological transformation of the automotive industry leading to electrified, highly energy-efficient and smart mobility solutions as well as the potential for digitization. All these changes will not only dramatically change the car itself. Many other areas, such as commerce and the energy industry, will be affected, too. From this point of view, it is also important to consider new business cases for nowadays automotive industry. As a consequence, the Cluster Electric Mobility South-West and e-mobil BW commissioned a study on Light Electric Vehicles and their potential for the region

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