While Tesla is focusing on the delivery of the Model 3 – their newest electric vehicle after the Model S and X – the German car makers are deeply mired in scandals. And every day brings new details, which let us more and more lose the trust in German engineering and ask ourselves if this hasn’t been a myth all way long. While in the US people can hardly believe what new lows president Trump reaches every day, we can’t trust our eyes with how deep German car makers are sinking.
Half of Audi’s board has been fired, the Diesel scandal is reaching a current climax with the Diesel summit of politic and automakers, which is going to deal with penalties and bans, all at the costs of the makers, the UK, France, and other countries are discussing stopping the sale of Diesel cars, cities are banning Diesel vehicles to enter their city limits, and then we hear about the illegal collusion of German car makers.
Not only did this keep prices up, it also stifled innovation and reduced it to a minimum. The victims are customers, German society, and the reputation of German craftsmanship. Did people in Germany actually understand how devastating those scandals are for the German economy and the German reputation abroad? Because of one industry that seems to be full of criminal energy, all other industries are pulled into the dirt as well.
The question that I keep asking myself is why the employees of German car manufacturers are taking those frauds so stoically? Not only did they build for many years cars that are the equivalent of metal shit, their own jobs are now more than ever endangered. The money that they could have used to invest into technology innovation has to be used for re-equipping and fixing the cars and for billions of dollars of penalties. Money that could have been used for new automotive technologies such as batteries, electric propulsion, or autonomous driving.
Is this OK for the employees? Is this “part of the business?”Because of a few hundred managers and employees who have been doing illegal activities for several decades, everyone’s job is now endangered. And the workforce is not doing anything to tell their management about their dissatisfaction of that situation and those activities? Where are the VW/Daimler/BMW-employees taking it out on a good old strike with labor unions calling for walkouts, where the shareholders are grilling the boards? Why are the ready to go on strike and confrontation for every little shit, but when it’s about something really imporant – not less than the future of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the industry, millions of jobs in the country, and not less than the future of their children, then they are doing nothing? “it’s not gonna be that bad.” “It’s all a conspiracy of the Americans!”
Really? Do you still have your shit together? The ones to blame are us. We did do that and we allowed that to happen. The sooner we recognize that the faster we can save what’s saveable. Every day that we are refusing to recognize the reality, the more difficult it will become. It’s time to take of the gloves and tackle this industry that seems to run on criminal energy. Politicians have to take charge. It’s not just about the jobs in this industry anymore, it’s about the wealth of the whole country.
In the meantime Elon Musk confirmed that a half million reservations for the Model 3 have been processed. But also here the naysayers have their arguments ready. “First, Tesla has to show that they can build so many cars. German manufacturers have done that for a long time.” Well, no single German manufacturer has built as many electric vehicles as Tesla (or the Chinese for that matter) has, not even close. Four years have passed since Tesla has introduced the Model S, since then the Model X and 3, but now a single German car manufacturer has a car in their portfolio that has the same specs. Four years!!!
In other words, the Germans can’t. To point out that German manufacturers have been producing millions of cars is as if the German carriage industry in 1900 bragged that they build a million carriages every year, while Carl Benz hardly manages to make 1,000 cars a year. The car makers rather rely on hybrids, the same as if Carl Benz in 1900 had designed a motor car with a horse left in, just in case.
This technology is different. Not bending metals, but digital technology counts. And Germany already lost this race. German, even Europe, has not managed to create a digital company of world renown. Not one that comes even in the range of Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Co. Digital is not our strength, and those new type of cars are iPhones on wheels.
That our car manufacturers have put their energy into criminal activities, instead of future technologies. And this reinforces the effect of the Reverse Moore’s Law which the Germans are suffering from. Especially now that Silicon Valley and China have smelled blood, the gap increases more and more.
With this in mind, those activities, the half-hearted solutions, the lack of ambition, the lack of action of all involved and the ones screwed, I don;t see any future for the German car industry. We have to prepare ourselves that this industry is lost, and that we are not leading this anymore. Not Tesla or the Americans of Chinese are to blame, it’s all out own undoing.
This article has also been published in German.