Global carmakers and their suppliers are under enormous pressure to adapt to the new age of electric cars, an evolution that will cost them vast sums of money at a time when they are already struggling with the plunge in consumer demand.
Adapt they must however, especially in the EU, where they face billions of euros in fines if they don’t reduce their fleet CO2 emissions targets.
Germany, which decided against putting money behind buyer premiums to boost sales of fossil-fuel cars in the COVID-19 crisis, is now planning to support automotive suppliers and car manufacturers in the tech migration to clean mobility.
The economy ministry has presented an aid plan for a spend of around €2bn, in the form of grants, and for training, research and development, and initiatives in tech such as 3-D printing, autonomous driving and digitalisation between 2021 and 2024.
"The switch to new products, especially in e-mobility, requires an adaptation of production," the proposal said. "Faster innovation cycles require more flexible production systems. The cost pressure in production is high."
German leader Angela Merkel has expressed a wish that Germany become a “pioneer” in the autonomous vehicles, and wants to be the “first country in the world to permit driverless vehicles in regular operation” across the country. The Ministry of Transport is currently drafting legislation that would allow driverless vehicles to operate on the streets.
However, Germany could be beaten by China, where robot-taxis already operate in some of the megacities, and the US, where Waymo is making great leaps.
WATCH: Why Tesla’s threat is driving carmakers to embrace EVs