German automakers should not fear their Asian rivals, Scholz says

German automakers should not fear their Asian rivals, Scholz says

Automotive News Europe — 2023-09-06

Automotive Industry

Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Germany’s automakers to embrace competition from Asian rivals and not be intimidated by the rise of China’s electric-vehicle manufacturers.

Competition should spur us on, but not scare us,” Scholz said Tuesday in a speech at the IAA Mobility auto show in Munich, insisting that “there is no question about the international competitiveness of Germany as a car nation.”

Yes, good cars are also being built and developed outside Germany,” he added. At the same time, he said that he could “hardly think of any other location in the world that has such a wealth of expertise in automotive engineering” as Europe’s biggest economy.

German brand such as BMW, Mercedes and Audi have long dominated sales of premium combustion-engine cars in China, but European manufacturers have been slow to tap into the Asian country’s rapid shift to electric vehicles.

Led by BYD, Chinese automakers will almost double their share of the auto market to 33% by the end of the decade, UBS analysts wrote in a report published last month.

BYD overtook Volkswagen Group this year as China’s top-selling automaker, and Mercedes slashed prices for its flagship electric sedan there late last year after disappointing sales.

Electric cars and plug-in hybrids are expected to make up 90% of the world’s biggest auto market around the end of this decade, while a price war in China started by Tesla has also increased the pressure.

Scholz said it’s “no coincidence” that Tesla built its European plant in the eastern German region of Brandenburg and that Ford decided to manufacture electric cars for the European market in Cologne. “All of this is an expression of our country’s capabilities,” he added.

Charging push

Separately, Scholz announced a massive push to expand charging stations for EVs on Tuesday.  

The chancellor said that in the coming weeks, Germany would become "the first country in Europe to introduce a law requiring operators of 80% of all service stations to provide fast-charging options with at least 150 kilowatts for e-cars.

The move would soon make range anxiety for EVs a thing of the past, he added. 

Scholz did not give a timeframe for the initiative.