Germany and cars are connected by a long history. At the end of the 19th century, Carl Benz produced the first automobile. Today, Germany is the fourth-largest producer of automobiles worldwide, after Japan, the US and China. The automotive industry is considered the driving force of the German economy. The industry, which places a strong focus on qualifications, employed around 720,000 people in 2011 – including a high percentage of university graduates.
The number one export
The industry serves as an instigator for many other industrial sectors. A large network of suppliers from the fields of mechanical engineering, metalworking, and the textile and chemical industries supply materials for the automotive industry and benefit from its large order volumes. The industry experienced a record year in 2011. According to the industry association VDA, Germany’s annual car production reached a figure of some 5.87 million cars that year – the highest number recorded in the industry’s 125-year history.
The automotive industry’s annual revenues reached around €351 billion in 2011, an increase of 10.8 percent over the previous year. A large percentage of the revenues is attributable to foreign demand. Cars and car parts were the principal exports in the year 2011, with three-fourths of the German-produced cars being exported. Demand has particularly increased in countries such as China and India.
Cutting-edge research for the environment
Companies in the automotive industry are distinguished by their high technological skill and innovation. After all, they have to survive in a dynamic market characterised by constant structural and technological change. The issue of climate change, in particular, is pushing German automobile manufacturers to constantly improve the environmental compatibility and carbon efficiency of their vehicles and to develop alternative engine types. An international comparison shows Germany as a clear leader in matters related to environmental technologies – especially the reduction of carbon emissions (as reported by VDA). According to VDA, German manufacturers are ranked “first place in the efficiency comparison”. With annual expenditures amounting to some €20 billion, the automotive industry spends more money on research and development than other German industries. Some 90,000 people are employed in the area of R&D, and around 10 patents are filed each day.
Information on this portal
Information on the World Wide Web
Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology
Information on the innovation and structural change in the automotive industry (German)
European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA)
Representing the interests of 18 European automobile manufacturers (English)
German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA)
Information on the German automotive industry, transport policy, environmental and climate protection (German, English)