Topics: Automaker, Electric Cars, Autonomous System
Innovation drives the auto industry, as do sales figures and market power. Pioneers are challenging the big names but who’s in the driver’s seat. Elon Musk was long dismissed as crazy. Elon Musk began making electric cars in the early 2000s. Tesla brand is now a major player selling 500,000 vehicles here. Its market value is higher than all the German carmakers put together, but the winds of change are coming. The world’s largest automaker is switching to all electric. Thomas Ulbrich says that when it comes to technical innovation, that is always an impossible question. Volkswagen was right on time. Electric cars are growing in popularity. Many governments now offer buyers financial incentives. Volkswagen is converting all its plants and costs €35 billion over the next three years. Ellen Enkel says that VW has many more models than Tesla. If companies all convert to electric cars over the next few years, VW will soon overtake Tesla. Battery production is another focus of the German carmaker. eventually once batteries are made in Europe using green electricity. Thomas Ulbrich want to ensure that customers are well supplied with high-quality battery cells and ultimately bring the costs into line through economies of scale. So the car of the future will be using electricity; what else? The trend is towards self-driving cars that free the driver to focus on more important things – a living room or office on wheels. So the car becomes not just a mode of transport but an extension of the home, and it’s up to the company to design the vehicle accordingly. The cars need to be ready so the customer can work, play or read at leisure. Connectivity is clearly going to be key but perhaps not just inside the car. Automakers need to see the bigger picture. Ellen Unkel said that, especially now in the pandemic, Ellen would like to have seen automakers investing in the development of new mobility concepts. These could be apps that allow customers to decide how to get from A to B. Perhaps a single platform that offers various forms of transport here to automakers risk falling behind. Ellen Unkel also described software companies like Amazon, Alibaba, and others are already very strong in this area. It would certainly not be sensible to wait until the other companies have the perfect solution on the market. But to take the initiative now. DW Business designed a digital customer interface using “we connect services” and will continue to expand and develop that. Carmakers are working on their digital strategy individually as rivals. The prospect of one big mobility platform for all isn’t on the cards. Thomas Ulbrich said that there had been ideas and discussions on that but no decisions yet. So there’s plenty of room for innovators from other industries to pull ahead. Google and Apple are already on the job. Even aircraft makers sense an opportunity.