“E-Mobility: Germany is leading in technology!” Under normal circumstances a praising headline like this by German consulting firm Roland Berger would be a cause for celebration, but unfortunately, reality interferes with the statement.
But recently, stronger scrutiny on Fake News make the results of the Index E-Mobility Q1/2017 (link to the PDF) seem somewhat misleading. The study, conducted by the Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen Aachen (fka) and Roland Berger, lists countries and industries by three criteria: technology, market, and industry.
Industry is the weakest point for Germany, where the country ranks in the 2nd half of the 7 countries. Thanks to production capacity the list is led by China, the US, and Japan. China has more than a dozen of electric vehicle manufacturers, the US with Tesla the car with the longest range and with the Gigafactory 1 now also mass production of battery cells. Germany occupies the fifth place after South Korea, but before France.
A bit different is the ranking for Markets. For unknown reasons five countries are head to head. France, China, US, Germany and Japan have the same score. And that despite the text in the report painting a very different picture.
It doesn’t help that the report produces no data, but just scores without units of measure. That allows Germany to lead two of the three categories: market and technology. And the results for the technology ranking are mysterious as well. Both Germany and France have the same score: 2.8. Conclusion: Germany wins! How? Why?
The reasoning for Germany’s jump to the technology top in this ranking is as follows:
Users in the German E-Mobility-forums couldn’t stop rubbing their eyes in disbelieve. The only relevant (almost) fully electrical offering comes from one German manufacturer (BMW i3), and this car is not really known for large range and a lot of bang for the buck. French and Japanese OEMs as well as Tesla are leading the pack.
Digging deeper it becomes clear that a significant part of the ranking gave a lot of weight to hybrids. And of those German OEMs have a lot in their offerings. Not, because they really do believe in alternative power trains, but because they help them to reduce fleet emissions. Hybrids – which do have both a battery and a combustion engine (and please don’t bore me with the discussion whether the engine connects directly to the propulsion or just charges the battery), are driven during test cycles in very peculiar ways. First only in battery until it’s empty, then with the engine. The convenient result: the exhaust emissions decrease. The problem is that in real life a hybrid is never driven like that.
If Carl Benz had thought like the management of German OEMs today, then we’d have a an internal combustion engine car still with a horse attached to it.
It’s not helpful for the German automotive industry and for theit management, if you keep them in a false sense of security and lull them. Silicon Valley already has given up on them and is moving to a melancholic feeling towards German car makers.
“Never bite the hand that feeds you!”
Roland Berger and fka crashed head on with the results of their report.This feeling is not just coming from Silicon Valley, it’s present in the German public and media as well. Proof? Watch the documentary from German TV station ZDF “The fairy tale about E-Mobility.” The authors of the report should have taken a look. The only category in which German manufacturers are still top is the one of announcing new concept cars. But there they have had practice for many years.
A study from the Fraunhofer-Institut for System and Innovation Research ISI titled: Energy Storage Monitoring 2017: Germany on the Path to a Leading Market and Supplier? (Energiespeicher-Moitoring 2016: Deutschland auf dem Weg zum Leitmarkt und Leitanbieter?) from December 1st, 2016 shows a very different picture. Germany is leading in none of the categories (Research and Technology, Demand, Market Structure, Industry).