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E-mobility as a mass phenomenon: E-cars can change everything

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When e-mobility becomes a mass phenomenon
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D he electric car will become a mass phenomenon at some point. Auto suppliers and economic experts are certain of this. There is no need to worry about our economy, Germany as a technology location - everyone seems to be in agreement there, too. Can that be true? After all, the technology of a purely battery electric car (BEV) differs considerably from that of a vehicle with a combustion engine. Not only does the engine with components such as injection pumps, pistons, camshafts and turbochargers become superfluous, the gearbox with many gears, the entire exhaust system and the oil circuit become virtually unnecessary. 'Roughly speaking, a third of the vehicle's added value is practically eliminated,' summarizes Willi Diez, Director of the Institute for the Automotive Industry (IFA).

This could have major consequences for many suppliers in the future, if you can no longer earn money with certain components. Especially since the mechanics around the combustion engine are considered to be the core competence of the German manufacturers and suppliers. In the long term, companies have to adapt and develop new business areas. 'Otherwise there is a risk of sales collapsing at some point,' says Stefan Bratzel, Director of the Center of Automotive Management. At the same time, he tries to calm down: 'We have a relatively long transition from internal combustion engines to hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars. And in the course of this transition there will be no less sales.'

No clear electric car direction decision before 2020

But when exactly the time will come when electric cars have serious market relevance and which drive concept will really prevail - whether the purely battery-electric (BEV) or the fuel cell - is still in the stars. However, no one is currently expecting a clear directional decision before 2020. 'If oil prices stay as low as they are at the moment, then that will be more likely in 2030 or 2040. Every company that is affected has a lot of time to adapt,' said Diez. In addition, range, battery prices and the infrastructure have a decisive influence on the sales figures of electric vehicles.

Despite these many unknowns, companies are well advised to actively promote the development of e-mobility. Because especially in the field of battery and cell technologyother nations and manufacturers are currently ahead. 'We have to get involved now so that this large share of added value is not given up without a fight,' demands Bratzel. As a high-wage country, Germany has to convince in the competition above all with high innovative strength /p>

Further development of e-mobility requires public funding

Without additional public funding, however, it could be difficult or even impossible to master the challenges, as manufacturers and suppliers have to develop on two fronts In order to both advance e-mobility and continue to design internal combustion engines and complete vehicles more efficiently. On the other hand, you need qualified personnel. Above all, the cooperation between mechanical engineering and electrical engineering as well as specialists in the areas of software and electronics are becoming increasingly important will be looking at new locations mainly settle where they find the best framework conditions. 'For me, this is one of the major deficits in recent years. Far too little has been invested in the most important resource that we have in Germany - and that is the subject of knowledge and know-how,' complains Bratzel.

The big suppliers seem to have recognized the signs. 'The common goal is to develop and establish Germany as a lead market and provider for electromobility,' says ZF boss Stefan Sommer. However, it is important not to replace the combustion engine with electric drives, but rather to combine both as intelligently and efficiently as possible. For the time being, Bosch also sees no competition for the classic combustion engine in increasing electrification. After all, the chances for higher sales are good. On the one hand, hybrids offer the option of supplying components for both drive trains. On the other hand, with e-vehicles it is currently conceivable that the suppliers will become system providers. In other words, they not only contribute individual components, but also develop and sell the entire electric motor, partly including the power electronics.

Suppliers have to restructure and build up

'But at some point we will all drive completely electrically,' believes Willi Diez. And until then, some companies will have to completely restructure and build up. It doesn't seem that easy for everyone. At least Mahle - a supplier in the field of engine systems - does not want to comment on its own corporate strategy in terms of e-cars. Bosch, on the other hand, is currently running 30 projects related to the electrification of vehicles, and almost all manufacturers are now offering electric cars. The market leader in Europe is currently not a German manufacturer, but Nissan.

The e-car is here in Germanyjust a young plant. 'Up until 2006, 2007 it was more of a blocking of developments, only afterwards was the topic intensively addressed', recalls Professor Bratzel. And further: 'I think the manufacturers themselves were surprised at how much CO2 savings are possible if you deal intensively with the subject.' It remains all the more exciting to see how the industry continues to develop.

Inspections are getting cheaper

But what does the E -Mobility - apart from locally emission-free locomotion - benefits the consumer? High purchase prices, short ranges and an inadequate charging infrastructure still deter many interested parties. But these problems will decrease in the next few years, and then the electric car will delight its owner with low maintenance costs. For example, the inspection of a VW e-Golf only costs around 40 percent of the cost of a normal petrol engine. Components such as brakes can remain in use much longer. According to an IFA study that examines the effects of e-mobility on the spare parts and repair market, the recuperation, i.e. deceleration by means of the motor brake, which also generates electricity, reduces wear on the pads by around a third. p>

Overall, however, the authors do not expect a high number of jobs that will be lost in the future. Although some activities are omitted with the BEV, the power electronics have to be checked and the coolant and dryer cartridge of the battery replaced. Special equipment is not necessary for this work, explains the Central Association of the German Motor Vehicle Industry (ZDK). However, the employees must be specially qualified in order to disconnect the high-voltage vehicles from the power supply and thus be able to work safely. The ZDK as well as automobile manufacturers and suppliers offer training for this purpose. In addition, this area is now part of the training of an automotive mechatronics engineer. The workshops, like the manufacturing industry, seem to be well equipped. They have to. Because if the electric car replaces the classic combustion engine - whether that is the case sooner or later - it will have an impact on the entire value chain. That much is really safe.

Catching up development deficit quickly

The electric car can come, everyone is ready for this. At first glance, despite doubts, this seems to be okay for the industry. But if you read it in more closely and ask, it seems a bit too convinced. Because all the justifications are based on the fact that there is still a lot of time for developments. But what happens if the sales boom in e-vehicles - as unthinkable as it currently seems - starts earlier? Even with smartphones or SUVs, many would not have had their resounding successpresumed.

And sometimes a little push from a seemingly foreign industry is enough to get the ball rolling. Take car sharing as an example. The smartphone simplified the rental and payment system so much that the number of users skyrocketed. Admittedly, several factors have to fit together with an electric car: price, range and charging infrastructure. The fluctuating oil price makes it even more exciting. Therefore, business, trade unions and politics should work together to make up for the failures in developments. Germany has the potential for this.

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