Mapping out the future for the automotive industry

Study investigates the effects of electromobility on employment in Germany
© Daimler AG

Effects of vehicle electrification on employment in Germany (ELAB)

Study investigates the effects of electromobility on employment in Germany

Electrification of vehicle powertrains is set to significantly reduce personnel requirements, with suppliers expected to take the hardest hit. The transition to electromobility can succeed if the right overall conditions are established. Government and companies now need to develop strategies to tackle this challenge.

By 2030, electromobility could directly or indirectly impact every second job in the drive technology sector for cars. This is the conclusion of the “Effects of vehicle electrification on employment in Germany (ELAB)” study conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. According to the findings, electrification and productivity – assuming the most likely developments – will result in the loss of around 75,000 jobs in Germany’s drive technology sector. This figure factors in the creation of some 25,000 new jobs for components such as batteries and power electronics. Germany’s automotive industry currently employs around 840,000 people, including around 210,000 who work in drive train production.

Government and companies have a crucial role to play in the transformation of the automotive industry

“These results shouldn’t give us reason to panic,” said Jörg Hofmann, chairman of Germany’s IG Metall union, in Frankfurt yesterday evening. “The challenge we face is great, but not insurmountable if we create the right conditions now,” he emphasized. Hofmann believes that this is where government and companies must step up. “Policy makers and businesses need to take action now and develop strategies for dealing with the transformation. Government must support the necessary structural changes in the automotive industry by introducing targeted industrial and employment policies, while companies must make major requalification campaigns a top priority to ensure their employees are not left behind in the wake of the transition.” Hofmann called on policy makers and companies to start introducing robust and sustainable strategies and proposals for tackling the issue without delay. “We must use the next few years to set the necessary adjustment processes in motion, but we have to map out the route today.”

If you consider that the total number of people employed in Germany exceeds 44 million, the potential loss of jobs is comparatively low, explained Professor Oliver Riedel, institute director at Fraunhofer IAO. “But on a plant and regional basis, the effects can be serious. Think about smaller businesses, for example, that are unable to make up for lost sales of components for internal combustion engines, or structurally weak regions where alternative employment is scarce,” he said.

Study investigates impact of electromobility on employment in three scenarios

In the study – initiated by IG Metall, BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler, Robert Bosch, ZF Friedrichshafen, Schaeffler, Mahle International and the German Association of the Automotive Industry – researchers from Fraunhofer IAO examined the effects of electromobility on employment in three scenarios. The focus is on a scenario in which by 2030 a quarter of all vehicles are powered by all-electric motors, 15 percent of vehicles are plug-in hybrids and 60 percent have a higher efficiency gasoline or diesel engine. Plug-in hybrids are particularly significant. Owing to the fact that they combine conventional and electric engine types, their impact is positive both in terms of climate and of employment. All scenarios are based on the assumption that the components for hybrid and all-electric vehicles are largely produced in Germany.

The study draws on production data from the participating companies. Given that the share of employment analyzed at these companies accounts for more than half of the drive technology value chains in Germany, the results are highly valid.