Now exactly that happened, what we have been tracking with our Death Watch of the German automotive Industry.
The German Federal Administration Court allows communities anc cities to prohibit Diesel cars to enter their boundaries.
What started as Diesel scandal, when American authorities discovered that Diesel cars from Volkswagen switch to a low emission mode when it detects that it’s being tested, while switching to a different mode when on the road, resulting in strongly increased emissions, the scandal has reached all German car makers. Both Mercedes and BMW also have illegal cheat software in their cars.
Since the scandal started, sales of Diesel cars have plummeted. From over 50 percent of all cars sold in 2016 to a third in 2017. Also used car prices for Diesel fell dramatically. Now with the court giving communities a tool to ban Diesel cars fro their centers, it’s expected that Diesel cars will become lead in the stores.
At the same time there is a lot of uncertainty for owners of Diesel cars. European customers – in contrast to American – have not gotten any compensation. That’s a total failure of European and German politics.
For alternative propulsion systems this is the tipping point. The trend to switch to electric vehicles is now unstoppable. Already today car makers can not fulfill the demand. Waiting times of nine months and more are common. Tesla has demonstrated with the half million pre-orders for its Model 3 that demand and interest for electric vehicles can be strong. Currently new EV sales are doubling every 12 months.
While German manufacturers are mocking Tesla for not being able to produce the Model 3 as fast as they had promised, their own failure becomes even more blatant. They also don’t manage to manufacture more of their small number of available electric vehicles, like Volkswagen’s e-Golf or BMW’s i3. For years the car makers have been announcing a series of electric vehicles which are supposed to come out within the next ‘three’ years.
How much the manufacturers have to change direction can be seen with BMW. Their manufacturing location Steyr in Austria, where almost all engines for BMW are manufacturers, is now positioning itself as EV-maker. And this is in stark opposition to the Munich headquarters, which also sees itself as EV-center within BMW.
Considering that today’s employees in engine manufacturing will become mostly redundant, with a maximum of ten percent of today’s workforce required, the next conflicts are predictable.
For electric mobility, cities and communities, and the environment this verdict b the German court is a positive development. And for German manufacturers and their employees this should be a wake-up call. If they will succeed with switching to alternative propulsion systems is far from certain.
This article has also been published in German.