Audi boss Gernot Döllner promotes in Gut Kaltenbrunn “a fully electric vehicle portfolio at the beginning of the next decade” from the Ingolstadt premium manufacturer. “We will see the transition to electric vehicles,” he said at the Ludwig Erhard summit of the Weimer Media Group on Lake Tegernsee. The current debate on moderation in electric mobility is also to some extent “a German debate”, explained Döllner when asked by editor and presenter Wolfram Weimer to what extent he was concerned about the recent low sales in the sector. “In China we had 25 percent electric car sales last year.”

On the rear panel was Wolfgang Kubicki, vice president of the German Bundestag and vice president of the FDP, in which, in addition to him and Döllner, there were also Hildegard Müller, president of the Association of the Automobile Industry (VDA), and Fabian Piontek. The partner and CEO of Alix Partners also participated, who believes the opposite. Kubicki doubts “that the absolute obsession with electric mobility has a future.” He is extremely skeptical and is surprised that e-fuels are no longer talked about. “After the European elections we will see that the combustion engine has a future,” said Kubicki.

Manufacturer Return Issues

“We have CO2 legislation that can only be achieved with a certain pace of electrification,” replied Döllner. In the short term, there is no other competitive technology and it does not work with e-fuels either. And the profitability comparison between electric cars and combustion engines? “Of course, the performance situation of electric vehicles is currently not the same as that of combustion engines.” Scaling, adequate raw materials chains and gigafactory-scale battery production are needed. He is convinced “that we will still see margin parity in this decade.”

In any case, Kubicki wants to continue driving combustion engines for now. If he traveled through Schleswig-Holstein, the problem would be with the electric car. The FDP politician stated that he travels a lot and that is why he would like to reach his destination. In winter it is already a problem to drive an electric vehicle from Berlin to Kiel. There are also security aspects. If people advised him to flee as quickly as possible if there was smoke in the car, that wouldn't convince him much. Another challenge, according to Kubicki: “For fire safety reasons, we cannot install charging stations in the underground parking lot of the Bundestag.”

Kubicki's problem with electric cars

“Here, next to the stage, is an electric car with a range of 600 kilometers, which can be recharged to 80 percent in 21 minutes,” said Döllner. It is a pity that Schleswig-Holstein does not have the appropriate charging infrastructure for this. Kubicki has a law office in Kiel. Kubicki said he has nothing against people driving electric vehicles. But on long trips it is a problem. He could focus on getting other fuels instead of relying solely on electric cars, he tried again with the issue of e-fuel. But it is his personal opinion. “You are responsible for ensuring that your employees receive their salaries,” said the FDP politician, addressing Döllner.

“We do not have a unilateral strategy,” defended the head of Audi. He is aware that in the target areas there is no political stability “since we need it to make a completely linear decision.” He is also in favor of openness to technology and Audi is “reactive.” When it comes to e-fuels, usually only one dimension is forgotten. This only makes sense if the synthetic fuel can be produced in regions where green electricity is abundant. “But we are not there in Europe.”

“Unsurpassed in terms of stupidity”

For Piontek, a partner at Alix Partners, the question arose of who “even wants to drive and own a vehicle today.” He can only talk about his own company, but a few years ago all employees would have decided to rent a company car; Today only a third would do so. VDA President Müller contradicts this. People under 25 now own more cars than ever, he said.

Meanwhile, Kubicki became angry again about the country's economic conditions. “The fact that Germany gives ten billion euros to Intel, one of the most profitable companies in the world, is no longer comparable in terms of stupidity. The company is building a chip factory near Magdeburg.” The German economy is so strong that it can overcome all challenges. You just have to let people know and don't tell them what they might think.

You can follow Ludwig Erhard's summit live at www.leg-live.de. You can find the summit ticker here.

The article “Kubicki criticizes Stromer and his “absolute fixation on electric mobility”” comes from Business Punk.

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