Automotive industry is key industry, says Merkel

IAA in Frankfurt/Main Automotive industry is key industry, says Merkel

Chancellor Merkel has stressed how hugely important the German automotive industry is for jobs and growth. "We know how important your sector is for our country," the Chancellor said at the start of the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt/Main on Thursday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel visiting the von Schaeffler booth during her tour following the opening of the 67th International Motor Show

Merkel took a keen interest in innovations in the automotive industry during her tour of the International Motor Show

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

As far as the diesel emissions scandal was concerned, Chancellor Merkel accused car manufacturers of "heavily exploiting regulatory gaps". Even though that applied to only a minority in the industry, Merkel said in her opening speech, "everything possible needs to be done now to regain credibility and trust as quickly as possible".

Combustion engines plus electromobility

The Chancellor called on both German and foreign manufacturers to help clean up the environment by retrofitting diesel engines. She refused to denounce diesel technology as a whole, however. "There's no way around it," she said, "we'll be needing combustion engines for decades to come."

Investments needed to be made to both promote and develop new drive technologies, Angela Merkel said. "Combustion engines plus electromobility, that's how we can avoid driving bans being imposed on diesel vehicles," she added. European solutions would also have to be found.

Future Now

Matthias Wissmann, President of the Association of the German Automotive Industry (VDA), admitted in his speech that some car manufacturers had made "serious mistakes". But they had recognised their mistakes and were rigorously following them up now. Wissmann said that he, too, was against driving bans. "Innovative strategies for the future are always better than blanket driving bans," he said.

The motto of this year's International Motor Show is "Future Now". Without doubt the megatrend at the IAA 2017 is digitalisation – a topic which the German automotive industry in particular is driving ahead at great speed. It encompasses automated driving, electromobility and new mobility strategies for the city of the future.

Some 1,000 exhibitors from 39 countries will be presenting their innovations at the 67th IAA in Frankfurt/Main until 24 September. A total of 228 world premieres will be showcased. The IAA is not only the leading international trade fair on mobility, but also the only one in the world at which both manufacturers and suppliers set up their booths side by side. The show opens its doors to the general public on Saturday.

Summit on automated driving

Federal Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt will be discussing the future of automated driving at the IAA with his European counterparts, EU representatives and CEOs. The two-day meeting, beginning on Thursday, 14 September, will be attended by EU Commissioners Günther Oettinger and Violeta Bulc as well as Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche, among others.

"Europe must lead the way when it comes to self-driving vehicles," Dobrindt said. A uniform market needed to be created as quickly as possible, he said. That was why Luxembourg would be joining the German–French Digital Test Field, he added. Ministers from the three countries will be sealing the deal in Frankfurt.