Business/economy

Automobilwoche Congress in Berlin Franz Fehrenbach: Be courageous with reforms and create a dependable political framework Germany’s automotive industry faces big challenges

  • Fehrenbach: “The industry must remain innovative to avoid being left in the dust”
  • Globalization offensive in the automotive industry
  • Flexible and open solution to achieve CO2 targets
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  • November 22, 2013
  • Business/economy
  • Press releases

press release

Berlin – Franz Fehrenbach, the chairman of the supervisory board of Robert Bosch GmbH, has called for the introduction of necessary reforms and the creation of a dependable regulatory and political framework to safeguard the country’s automotive industry. “If policymakers want to defend Germany’s export muscle and keep industrial jobs in the country, they have to continue to be courageous with reforms,” said Fehrenbach at this year’s Automobilwoche Congress in Berlin. The automotive industry in particular is facing big economic and technological challenges, he said, and these called for a concerted effort on the part of policymakers and industry leaders. Referring to the ongoing negotiations between conservatives and social democrats in Berlin to form a grand coalition at federal level, Fehrenbach said: “The coalition will be a truly ‘grand’ one only if it can successfully overcome the big challenges that are testing the country’s ability to tackle the future.”

Keep on innovating
Fehrenbach emphasized the economic importance of the automotive industry for Germany. “Employing a workforce of just under 800,000, the German automotive industry is a compelling symbol of our country’s economic strength.” It was above all the automation, electrification, and connectivity of motor vehicles that posed big technological challenges, he pointed out. At the same time, Asian manufacturers were consistently enhancing their competitiveness and tapping new sales markets. Fehrenbach believes there is only one possible strategy: “This industry must remain innovative to avoid being left in the dust.”

Plenty more room for globalization
As the European market looked unlikely to regain buoyancy in the medium term, Fehrenbach called on the industry to undertake a further globalization offensive. As early as 2016, he said, one in two motor vehicles would be sold in the Asia Pacific region and, by 2020, China’s share in global automobile production would rise from today’s 23 percent to 29 percent. “Even though we need to manufacture all over the world in order to be successful in the world’s markets, we must not lose sight of the key strengths of the German industrial hub – quality and innovative strength,” said Fehrenbach. But it is not only sales markets that are constantly shifting, he added. Asian automakers are also scaling up their sales offensive in promising markets such as Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa.

The move to alternative forms of energy and CO2 emissions legislation – two areas for action
In Fehrenbach’s view, policymakers also bear responsibility for the future of (auto)mobility. They must, he said, implement the necessary reforms, such as the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (a prerequisite for automated driving). Government also needs to ensure a reliable framework for business. Fehrenbach said that energy prices in particular would increaseingly become a burden on German industry. Electricity for industry in Germany must not become more expensive than in every other country, he said. “What we expect from the move to alternative forms of energy is not just that our power supply will become ‘green,’ but also that it will remain affordable and reliable.”

Fehrenbach demanded that the EU’s climate protection regulations and CO2 legislation deliver investment security and legal certainty. Only then, he said, will new efficient technologies be able to gain a foothold in the market and become more widespread. In this context, Fehrenbach advocated a flexible and, in technological terms, open solution, one that takes account of eco-friendly innovations outside the New European Driving Cycle and independently of vehicle size. “We need to continue stimulating innovation across all vehicle classes, for instance through bigger ‘super credit’ incentives for low-emission vehicles.”

Smart road network for tomorrow’s traffic
Fehrenbach also spoke to the industry gathering of the need for more investment in a smart road network. “In the future, state-of-the-art vehicles will require a state-of-the-art infrastructure.” The vision of automated and hence accident-free driving will only become a reality if infrastructure as well as vehicles are smart and able to exchange data, he argued. Only then will it be possible to introduce smart traffic management in conurbations, for instance. At the same time, it will be possible to put a price on the valuable commodity of congestion-free driving based on time and route, he said. Fehrenbach identified further potential in smart road tolls: “An electronic toll system could be opened up to include additional services.” Fehrenbach explicitly expressed his opposition to increasing the financial burden on drivers though such a road toll.

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 375,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2015). The company generated sales of 70.6 billion euros in 2015. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing and sales network covers some 150 countries. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. Bosch employs 55,800 associates in research and development at 118 locations across the globe. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.”

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com and www.bosch-press.com, http://twitter.com/BoschPresse.

PI8393 - November 22, 2013

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