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Future of the aumobile industry

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Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The automotive industry and its suppliers are of key significance for value creation and employment in Europe and especially in Germany. With a turnover of around 335 billion euros, this sector generates almost 20 % of the manufacturing industry’s total volume of trade in Germany and, with its approx. 797,000 workers, provides about 13 % of the jobs in industry. However, these statistics only include those suppliers which are officially registered as 'manufacturers of parts and components for automobiles and their engines'. But many companies are listed in other sectors such as the metal, electrical, plastics and rubber industries which also operate as automotive suppliers. Estimates of the Fraunhofer ISI based on input-output tables of the Federal Statistical Office show that about 990,000 people are employed in Germany’s manufacturing industry who work in all the upstream stages of automotive suppliers. This figure, which reflects the true significance of automotive suppliers, is about three times higher than the previously available statistical figures for this sector. This means that automobile manufacturers and their suppliers provide almost 1.8 million jobs in Germany.

The global automobile industry is currently facing a time of turmoil and upheaval. New car markets are rapidly growing in importance. For example, China became the world’s largest market for new passenger cars in 2009/2010, while sales on established markets are almost stagnating. Manufacturers and suppliers are facing the substantial business challenges of high global excess capacities, an increasingly differentiated product program right down to models for »niches-within-niches«, which means an ever smaller number of units produced per model, as well as product requirements which increasingly differ on a regional level. New drive concepts, especially electric mobility, will penetrate the market in the next years and changing framework conditions will result in altered market dynamics. These comprise mainly the expected steady increase in fossil energy prices and the enforcement of ambitious climate policy targets in the transport sector as well.

The prospective transition to new drive technologies in vehicle construction (hybrid, electric, fuel cell) certainly harbours risks for German car manufacturers and suppliers since their current know-how in conventional drives will be devaluated, at least partially, and important value-added steps will have to be modified (e.g. air conditioning and bra


The planned TAB innovation report will provide a systemic view for the first time: from global market developments and modified mobility concepts to the position and future potentials of the German automobile sector. Up to now, only partial analyses have been made.

The analysis is conducted for a time horizon of 20 years up to 2030. It concentrates on passenger transport and car markets since the biggest changes are expected here in this period. Electric mobility is taken into account by including parallel TAB projects.

The following steps are planned:

Global development of the automobile markets

A European car market model (ASTRA-VFT) is expanded to the global level by including selected international lead markets and the volume of cars worldwide is predicted in two scenarios. The non-European lead markets considered are USA, Japan, China, Brazil, Russia, India and Korea, depending on the available data.

Export dependency and excess capacities

Export flows and capacities are analyzed based on statistical data and company databases/sectoral studies in order to estimate the export dependency of the German car industry and global excess capacities up to 2030.

Potential diversification and structural change

The diversification and structural change options of the German automobile industry will be examined in two (combinable) directions:

  • Differentiation of the product range starting with the premium, volume, low-price/micro segments and, if applicable, going down to the »niche-within-a-niche« models.
  • Diversifying by developing new mobility concepts and extending the value creation of car manufacturers by mobility services.

Shifts in the supply chain

Estimating the impacts on the automobile supply chain of globally changing markets combined with diversification strategies. Besides evaluating ISI’s production surveys of 1,484 German manufacturing companies, including 319 automobile suppliers, a short written survey of approx. 70 leading automobile manufacturers and suppliers is planned. The aim is to validate the information obtained on excess capacities and sales forecasts and to ask about the extent to which individual value chain steps and competences are affected by the identified technological and systemic developments.

Employment effects of structural change

Using a statistical approach based on an input-output model, a scenario analysis is conducted which considers


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