Powertrain electrification: study published together with recommendations for action
Dec 10, 2018
A study conducted by Fraunhofer IAO and initiated by the trade union IG Metall and representatives from the automotive industry predicts that electromobility will lead to a loss of jobs. The initial findings were first presented back in the summer. Now the study has been published in full and also contains recommendations for action to safeguard employment and prosperity in Germany.
Powertrain electrification along with productivity increases will have a substantial impact on employment in the automotive industry. In Germany, on the basis of likely developments, this will result in a loss of some 75,000 jobs in powertrain production, where around 210,000 people are currently employed. This figure factors in the creation of some 25,000 new jobs for components such as batteries and power electronics. This is the conclusion of the study “ELAB 2.0 – Effects of vehicle electrification on employment in Germany,” which was conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. Alternatively, the spread of electromobility could also prove to be an example of successful structural change, provided that the requisite conditions are met, and appropriate measures undertaken. These conditions and recommendations for action have now been published in full together with the findings of the study.
The role of government, business, and higher education and training
The study calls upon the German government to back the EU Commission in the regulation of CO2 emissions and itself to approve sufficient fiscal incentives for plug-in hybrids. Similarly, the government should accompany this process of structural change with a targeted policy for industry and jobs, improve the conditions for German locations competing against locations in low-wage economies, and launch programs designed to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to help them upgrade their workforce skills. “SMEs make a substantial contribution to today’s healthy economic and employment situation in Germany,” explains Prof. Oliver Riedel, director of Fraunhofer IAO. “Given the expected trend in favor of electromobility, however, they now need to urgently seek new business opportunities in order to safeguard their market position.”
Companies, meanwhile, need to ensure that their own employees are made aware of the coming changes and their impact, and to provide further training – as ever, in compliance with the principal of codetermination, for instance through the intermediary of a works council. Another challenge facing companies in the manufacturing sector is that of having to produce “new” components while at the same time meeting the demand for their existing lines of products. Finally, higher education and training organizations should be gearing up to provide courses and study programs with a greater focus on the topic of electromobility. “It’s absolutely vital that higher education dedicates more time and attention to courses relevant to this field,” says Riedel. “If necessary, this may mean cutting back on courses centered on the internal combustion engine.”
Investigation of impact on jobs based on actual headcount
The study was initiated by IG Metall, BMW, Bosch, Daimler, MAHLE, Schaeffler, the German Association of the Automotive Industry, Volkswagen and ZF. Researchers from Fraunhofer IAO teamed up with the DLR Institute of Vehicle Concepts to investigate the impact of electromobility on employment in the automotive industry. The investigation was based on the actual number of people working in production at the companies participating in the study. It therefore differs from other studies in this field, which all rely on economic indicators. As such, the study is based on detailed data that, furthermore, cover more than half of the value chains involved in powertrain production in Germany. The results are therefore highly valid.