German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has dismissed concerns that growing Chinese competition is a threat to the local automotive industry, while welcoming Chinese carmakers to Europe’s largest auto show, IAA Mobility 2023, in Munich.
The six-day event officially opened on Tuesday.
Scholz said increased competition from China was good for the German auto industry.
“Fair competition stimulates business. It is in the interest of consumers,” he said, as Chinese electric vehicle companies showcased several new fully electric models, outshining some German automotive giants. “Competition should spur us on, not scare us.
“The countries that have achieved great prosperity in the course of globalization, the workers there, have no less right and no less claim to the opportunities of modernity than we do,” Scholz said of China.
“In the 1980s, it was said (that) Japanese cars would overrun the market. Twenty years later, it was cars made in South Korea and now supposedly Chinese electric cars,” Scholz, who wore a black eye patch due to an injury from a jogging accident on Saturday, said.
The German chancellor also expressed confidence in his country’s strengths.
“There is no question about the international competitiveness of Germany as a car country,” he said, adding that “Germany is still the linchpin of the auto industry and will remain so.”
Jun Jin, an auto industry expert at PwC, said the international market provides great opportunities for Chinese EV makers, given their strength in technology and costs.
“But this does not simply mean replicating their China success story; they need to succeed by adopting local practices,” Jun told China Daily.
Chinese companies, he said, still count on exports and have a long way to go before manufacturing vehicles overseas, arranging global supply chains and improving services for local customers.
Scholz, who toured several German booths on Tuesday, also stopped by Chinese car battery giant CATL, which had built its first plant outside China in Erfurt, Germany.
CATL said two days ago that it planned to make its latest fast-charging Shenxing lithium iron phosphate battery at the Erfurt factory.
On Tuesday, Scholz also announced Germany’s ambition to advance the EV roadmap in Germany.
He said Germany will stick to its target of putting 15 million electric cars on the roads by 2030 and appealed to automakers to provide more affordable EVs, in a reference to Chinese competitors that have an edge on pricing compared to several German companies.
Germany had 1.2 million fully electric vehicles on the streets by the end of April, according to its federal motor authority KBA.
Scholz has promised to make charging “as easy or even easier “than refueling petrol cars.
He said the coming weeks will see Germany become “the first country in Europe to introduce a law requiring operators of 80 percent of all service stations to provide fast-charging options with at least 150 kilowatts for electric cars”.
“This will soon make range anxiety a thing of the past,” he said.
Germany is targeting to put in place 1 million public charging points by 2030, from 90,000 at present.
Some 750 exhibitors from 38 countries are participating in IAA Mobility 2023, which includes 300 world premieres and innovations and 500 speakers at the IAA Conference. More than 3,500 journalists from 81 countries have been accredited for the show.
Agencies contributed to this story.
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