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
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.
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  • November 22, 2013
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Competition for “best annual report by family- and foundation-owned companies” Bosch annual report takes first prize

  • Bosch annual report appeals best to target groups, gives best overall impression, and safeguards transparency
  • More than 90 assessment criteria
  • Private Public Award presented by high-caliber panel of judges on November 19
Frankfurt – In competition with the 250 most successful family- and foundation-owned companies, the annual report of Robert Bosch GmbH has won first prize in the “best annual report” category. Uta-Micaela Dürig, senior vice president of Corporate Communications, Brand Management, and Sustainability at Robert Bosch GmbH, commented: “The annual report is our business card, both internally and in our dealings with the outside world. The entire team can be proud of this award. We won't rest on our laurels, however, but will carry on in our tradition of continuously improving our annual report.”

Modern annual reports beyond the stock exchange
The Public Private Award is given for the best examples of transparent communication by family- or foundation-owned companies. Of 250 annual reports, 50 were shortlisted – 40 of them family-owned and 10 foundation-owned. The companies' annual sales ranged from 0.8 to more than 50 billion euros.

Family-owned companies are the mainstay of the economy. Roughly 60 percent of all companies in the EU are family-owned. In Germany, this figure is far higher: more than 90 percent of all the country's companies are in family ownership. They generate more than 40 percent of the country's sales revenue and create just under 60 percent of all jobs. Interest in these companies is correspondingly high – whether from customers, associates and applicants, or the general public.

A sound assessment, thanks to more than 90 criteria
To be the best, an annual report has to satisfy a number of strict criteria: Is the company's business situation reported in a transparent way? Is the report complete and logical? How well has the guiding idea been translated in the image part? Is there a logical graphic concept? Only the company that collects enough points in all categories will emerge as the winner. On the basis of a checklist containing more than 90 criteria, the annual reports are assessed in terms of content, language, structure, and design.

High-caliber panel of experts
The Private Public Award was initiated by ergo Kommunikation and the accounting and tax advisory firm PKF Fasselt Schlage. They were supported by a high-caliber panel of judges:

  • Andreas Martin: partner and member of the management board, ergo Kommunikation, head of the Frankfurt and Munich offices
  • Dr. Martin Fasselt: partner, PKF Fasselt Schlage, Duisburg
  • Klaus Bietz: designer and art director
  • Dr. Lutz Raettig: chairman of the supervisory board, Morgan Stanley Bank AG
  • Prof. Dr. rer. pol. Katrin Stefan: professor, Kempten University of Applied Sciences
  • Thorsten Oltmanns: partner and global marketing director, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants GmbH
About the Private Public Award
This is the fourth year the Public Private Award has been presented. Past winners have included B. Braun Melsungen AG, Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH, Otto Group, Heraeus Holding GmbH, and Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG.

Additional information about the event and the award is available online at: http://www.private-public-award.de/
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  • November 20, 2013
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Youth unemployment in Europe Bosch takes on 100 additional trainees in Germany and Southern Europe

  • 50 additional places on vocational training courses in Germany, 20 in Italy, and 15 each in Portugal and Spain
  • Bosch earmarks 7.5 million euros over four years
  • Bosch CEO Denner: “Joint task for politicians, businesses, and society.”
Stuttgart – Bosch is offering an additional 100 places on its technical vocational training schemes in Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain to young people from Southern Europe. The initiative, which will take effect from the 2014 training year, is a response to high rates of youth unemployment in Southern Europe. The 50 new training places in Germany will be filled by applicants from Spain, while an additional 50 young people outside Germany will follow the program at Bosch locations in Italy, Portugal, and Spain. The technology and services company has set aside some 7.5 million euros in funding for the initiative over the next four years. The decision on whether to continue the initiative in future years will depend on the success of the initial program and ongoing developments in Southern European job markets. Some six million young people are unemployed across Europe – and the jobless rate among young people in some Southern European countries currently stands at more than 50 percent.

Youth unemployment – shared responsibility
“Combating youth unemployment in Europe is a joint task for politicians, businesses, and society. All of us share responsibility for this, including Bosch. We want to play our part,” says Dr. Volkmar Denner, Chairman of the Board of Management at Robert Bosch GmbH. Youth unemployment not only has a negative impact on the economy; it also undermines political structures. Experts have long highlighted the risk of young people turning their backs on basic democratic principles if they feel they have no prospects.
Christoph Kübel, Member of the Board of Management and Director of Industrial Relations at Bosch, also emphasizes the importance of people getting their working life off to a good start: “These early stages really set the course of people’s subsequent careers. Good training gives young people the chance to determine their own path.”

Training in Germany with intercultural support
The young people eligible for the scheme will be recruited by the Bosch regional companies. Since training capacities at Bosch locations outside Germany are limited, 50 young people from Spain will be trained at German locations. The successful applicants will also get an opportunity to take a language course in Spain as part of the preparations for starting their training in Germany at the end of summer 2014. This will be followed by a three month internship at Bosch in Germany. The young people will receive intercultural training and assistance throughout their stay in Germany thanks to a joint initiative between Bosch and the vocational training company BBQ, a subsidiary of the Education Institute of Baden-Württemberg Industry and Commerce (Bildungswerk der Baden-Württembergischen Wirtschaft e.V.).

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  • November 11, 2013
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Nomination for Future Prize as good example of collaboration Bosch CEO Denner: successful collaboration involving University of Jena, Trumpf, and Bosch secures Germany's innovative lead

  • Ultrashort laser pulses are new tool for mechanical engineering
  • 30 million products at Bosch by end of 2013 - three-fold increase likely in the medium term
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration
Ditzingen and Stuttgart – Publicly funded projects involving companies and universities are one of the best ways of preserving and increasing Germany's innovative strength. For Volkmar Denner, the Bosch CEO, and Peter Leibinger, the deputy chairman of the Trumpf board of management, there is no doubt that this is true. “This path can be a decisive one for German industry,” Denner said in Ditzingen, near Stuttgart, on Wednesday. He believes such alliances are a good way of translating the results of research into innovative products faster, and of securing their economic benefit for Germany.

As a positive example of such an alliance, associates from Bosch, Trumpf, and the University of Jena have been jointly nominated for the Federal President's Future Prize. The three partners have worked to develop ultrashort laser pulses, from basic research to application as a new tool in industrial mass production. These high-energy pulses can be used to drill extremely small holes in the hardest metals, or to cut sapphires and diamonds.

They are fired at the material up to 800,000 times a second, ablating microscopically small surfaces. This gives rise to holes or incisions. Trumpf currently supplies the most powerful industrial lasers in the field. Bosch has already used the technology in its own industrial series production. Many of the basic principles behind this process are the result of work done at the University of Jena. The parties presented the technology to journalists on Wednesday. The winner of the award will be announced in Berlin on December 4. Two other teams are in the running for the federal president's prestigious award.

Speaking to journalists, the Bosch laser expert Jens König said: “At Bosch, this technology is on the point of making its impact felt in huge production volumes.” By the end of 2013, it will have been used to manufacture 30 million products at Bosch alone, he pointed out. “A three-fold increase is likely in the medium term.” One such product that has been especially successful is a fuel-saving gasoline injection system that uses 20 percent less gasoline. But the laser pulses can also be used to cut extremely hard glass for smartphones or to shape medical products such as stents.

Denner and Leibinger unanimously agreed that many of the fundamental principles behind the laser were set down years ago in the “PRIMUS” and “PROMPTUS” projects, funded by the Federal Ministry of Research. They added that one of the conditions for such funding is that the projects involve people from different disciplines who cooperate across subject boundaries. They feel that this plays a decisive role in generating new ideas for innovative products. “Such innovative strength is crucially important for our country. Politicians, society, and companies should never forget that,” Denner said. “The joint nomination for the Future Prize is an especially good example of such collaboration.”
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  • November 06, 2013
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