German automakers produced 12.6 million cars in 2010, of which 75% were exported to other countries. The German automobile industry employs 1 out of 7 workers today and is vital for the economy and exports.
All German automakers develop and test electric vehicles. So far, all companies have introduced (full) hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) into their portfolios. Beginning in 2011 and in following years, all-electric vehicles (or BEVs, battery-electric vehicles) will be available for the mass market.
Models with hybrid- and full electric powertrain as announced for start of production by German manufacturers,
as of autumn 2011. (Source: DLR)
Daimler AG in Stuttgart pushes the electrification process in all technology directions. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), extended-range electric vehicles (EREVs), BEVs, as well as fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are under development.
Current test fleets are based on the Smart ED (BEV), the E-Cell (BEV), the E-Cell-Plus (EREV), and the F-Cell (FCV). The batteries for these vehicles are supplied by several joint ventures or subsidiaries. Daimler has established alliances with Tesla Motors (mainly supplying batteries for the Smart ED), the Chinese automaker BYD, and Deutsche Accumotive, a joint venture with the German chemical company Evonik. Daimler plans on producing its batteries in Germany through this subsidiary.
Regarding fuel cell vehicles, Daimler shows the most activities of all German automakers. In early 2011, three FCVs completed a world tour, trying to emphasize the suitability of fuel cell technology for daily use. Together with Bosch, Daimler has founded a joint venture for the production of electric motors.
BMW is developing the Megacity Vehicle (MCV) as the first mass-produced BEV with a carbon fiber chassis (CFC) chassis, which is scheduled to enter the mass market in 2013. Currently, BMW is involved in a fleet test with the Mini E and the 1 series ActiveE (both BEVs). BMW has joined a strategic cooperation with SB LiMotive (a joint company of Samsung and Bosch) for the production of lithium-ion batteries.
Volkswagen is building up its EV competencies mainly in-house, for example, in the e-motor plant in Kassel. VW has announced several PHEV and BEV models by 2013, including the Golf blue-e-motion and the E-Up!.
Audi is following a top-down introduction of hybrid models. Currently, hybrids are available for the A8 and Q-models. Audi’s all-electric vehicles focus on sports cars and small vehicles. Mass market introductions of BEVs are scheduled for 2012 (R8 e-tron) and 2013 (A3 e-tron). Audi has presented a range-extender concept for the A1 model based on a rotary (Wankel) engine.
The German automotive supplier industry offers a broad portfolio of technologies for electrified vehicle concepts, covering all aspects of the car. Overall, 924 companies with 289,000 employees are directly supplying the automotive industry. Additionally, 2,250 companies with around 700,000 employees are indirectly involved in the industry. The two biggest players are Bosch and Continental.
Bosch produces systems and components for all levels of hybridization. Ranked the second largest automotive supplier in the world, Bosch invests €400 million per year into electromobility-related technologies. Overall, Bosch has around 800 engineers dedicated to the cause of hybrid and electric vehicles. The product range covers e-motors (in part in cooperation with Daimler), batteries (through a joint venture with Samsung via SB LiMotive), software, e-bikes (in-house production since 2011), chargers, and inverters. Until 2013, Bosch is involved in 20 series-projects for 12 different OEMs.
Continental is ranked the third largest automotive supplier in the world. With a focus on hybrids, Continental is an integrated supplier of key components for the electric drivetrain. Its product range includes e-motors, batteries, software, power electronics, as well as gears and couplings. Continental produced the first lithium-ion battery for a series hybrid, the Mercedes S-400H.