“Auto summit” in Berlin: More billions for the auto industry

E-car purchase bonus extended to 2025, scrapping bonus also for new diesel trucks: the federal government wants to get the car industry on course for the future with an additional three billion euros. The industry is pleased.

The federal government is supporting the automotive industry with a further three billion euros. As previously announced, it is providing the industry with a total of around five billion euros. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert justified the new aid with a “long-term structural change” that brings with it “major challenges”.

At the same time, Seibert admitted that the auto industry “after a sharp drop in sales in the first half of the year” is now showing “the first signs of recovery”. Aid of two billion euros from the economic stimulus package for the supplier industry had already been promised.

Promote “transformation strategies”

In addition, Seibert has now announced one billion euros for a “future fund for the automotive industry”. The aim of the fund is to develop medium and long-term “transformation strategies” for the automotive industry. The aim is to bundle forces and achieve “cooperation between the federal, state and regional levels, but also between business, trade unions” and science. In addition, the so-called innovation premium will be extended until 2025, which corresponds to about a further billion euros in aid for industry. The government had already extended its purchase premium for all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in the summer until the end of 2021.

A further billion euros in aid will result from a planned fleet renewal program for trucks. Half of this money went to the Federal Ministry of Transport to purchase new trucks; the other half went to companies to renew their own fleets.

On Tuesday evening, Chancellor Angela Merkel again exchanged ideas with representatives of the automotive industry on the future of the industry in Germany. Participants in the virtual car summit as part of the so-called Concerted Mobility Action were also several federal ministers and prime ministers as well as union representatives as well as the leaders of the Union and the SPD.

Auto industry and IG Metall in a positive mood

The German auto industry and the IG Metall union welcomed the new billion-dollar funding commitments from the federal government. The extension of the “innovation premium” for electric cars and other instruments is a help for climate protection and economic strength, explained the president of the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), Hildegard Müller. “Every week we bring 12,000 new electric cars onto the streets in Germany.” But these would now also need many new e-charging stations.

IG Metall boss Jörg Hofmann said that a promised exchange program for heavy commercial vehicles should be viewed positively for further economic support. This also applies to the extension of the bonus for electric and hybrid vehicles. The tense employment situation in the industry, particularly in many suppliers, makes it necessary to implement the measures quickly.

Criticism from environmental groups and activists

A spokesman for the climate protection movement Fridays for Future (FFF) criticized the investment package as a “blockade in the mobility transition”. In particular, he condemned the “purchase premium for dirty hybrids”. The government and the lobbyists invited to the auto summit would delay “the sustainable transformation of the auto industry,” he told the AFP news agency. In the end, this only harms the employees.

Already in the run-up to the summit, the chairman of the transport committee in the Bundestag, Cem Özdemir, had criticized the fact that the federal government had been “moving from car summit to car summit”. This alone could not “successfully shape a transformation of our most important industry,” said the Green politician.

The environmental protection organization BUND had also warned against further “tax gifts” to the automotive industry. An extension of the existing funding for the purchase of electric cars and plug-in hybrids beyond 2021 would be “unacceptable,” said BUND traffic expert Jens Hilgenberg. Particularly in the case of plug-in hybrids, which are only partially electrically powered, the funding is “fatal” from the point of view of climate protection.

Volkswagen: Politicians are sending a “strong signal” for change in the automotive industry

In the opinion of Volkswagen, however, the decisions taken at the auto summit could decisively advance the change in the German core industry. The group spoke in the evening of a “strong signal” that shows “political will to shape”. The measures that have been decided should “further accelerate the ramp-up of electromobility”. This will facilitate the transition to more climate-friendly car traffic.

As a central step, VW considers that a faster expansion of the charging network is being sought – most recently, the demand for e-cars had grown due to the increased purchase premiums in the summer, but there is a lot of catching up to do with charging options in many regions. The federal government is now trying to “increase the trust required by customers for a simple and problem-free switch to e-mobility”. 1200 charging points have been set up at VW’s own locations.


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