Switch to e-cars will cost Germany 75,000 jobs, study claims

Above, a charging station for electric cars in front of the headquarters German energy company Innogy. The pivot toward cleaner engines posed a “major challenge” to Germany’s biggest industry. (AFP)
Updated 05 June 2018
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Switch to e-cars will cost Germany 75,000 jobs, study claims

FRANKFURT: The growing use of electrified vehicles is expected to cost Germany’s crucial car sector some 75,000 jobs by 2030, a study found Tuesday, with smaller auto parts suppliers set to be worst hit.
The IG Metall union, which commissioned the study along with BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler and a string of car parts makers, said the pivot toward cleaner engines posed a “major challenge” to Germany’s biggest industry, which employs more than 800,000 people.
Electric engines are simpler to build and require far fewer parts than petrol- or diesel-fueled cars.
According to the study, carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute, the shift will eliminate 100,000 of the 210,000 jobs in drivetrain manufacturing by 2030, while around 25,000 new roles will be created linked to batteries and other specific requirements for electric cars.
The figures were calculated on the assumption that by then, 25 percent of all cars on Germany’s roads will be fully electric, while another 15 percent will be hybrids, which combine an electric motor with a traditional internal combustion engine.
Today, these cars account for less than two percent of the market.
IG Metall chief Joerg Hofmann said the government and company bosses needed to take urgent action to prepare the industry for the upheaval, including through retraining schemes.
But he also warned that not everyone would survive the electric revolution.
“There will be suppliers who won’t be able to adapt their business model, especially among small- and medium-sized companies,” Hofmann told reporters in Frankfurt.
Whereas it takes some 4,000 workers to assemble a million gasoline-powered engines per year, just 1,840 are needed to build the same number of electric motors, the study said.
Volkswagen’s staff representative Bernd Osterloh told reporters that the car giant would respond to the changes by phasing out jobs through retirement schemes and “using the opportunities presented by the transformation.”
Despite being home to some of the world’s biggest and best-known carmakers, Germany’s auto industry was slow to focus its attention on the greener, smarter vehicles of the future — allowing newcomers like Tesla to take the lead.
But German firms have stepped up their efforts in the wake of Volkswagen’s 2015 “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal, which badly damaged the reputation of diesel cars and spurred a push toward more environmentally friendly engines.


China’s Xi promotes building initiative amid debt worries

Updated 26 April 2019
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China’s Xi promotes building initiative amid debt worries

  • Xi says Beijing wants “open, green and clean cooperation” with “zero tolerance for corruption”
  • High costs have prompted complaints some are falling into a “debt trap”
BEIJING: President Xi Jinping has promised to set high standards for China’s Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative, seeking to dispel complaints the many billion dollars in projects leave developing countries with too much debt.
Xi avoided mentioning debt complaints in a speech opening a forum attended by leaders from some three dozen countries to celebrate his signature foreign initiative. But he said Beijing wants “open, green and clean cooperation” with “zero tolerance for corruption.”
Developing countries welcome the initiative to expand trade by building roads, ports and other facilities across Asia and Africa to Europe. But high costs have prompted complaints some are falling into a “debt trap.”
The United States, Russia, Japan and India also worry Beijing is trying to build a trade and political network centered on China and expand its strategic influence at their expense.
Xi’s government is trying to revive the initiative’s momentum after the number of new projects plunged last year. That came after Chinese officials said state-owned banks would step up scrutiny of borrowers and some governments complained projects do too little for their economies and might give Beijing too much political sway.
Countries including Malaysia and Thailand have canceled or scaled back projects while Ethiopia and others have renegotiated debt repayment.
Xi noted China’s finance ministry on Thursday issued guidelines for assessing debt risks for borrowers. The ministry said those “debt sustainability guidelines” are based on the standards of the International Monetary Fund and other international institutions.
The president tried to allay complaints about lack of economic benefits and political influence, saying Belt and Road is “not an exclusive club” and promotes “common development and prosperity.”
“We need to pursue open, green and clean cooperation,” Xi said. “Everything should be done in a transparent way and we should have zero tolerance for corruption.”
His audience at a Beijing conference center included Prime Ministers Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Lee Hsien-Loong of Singapore and Adiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and leaders or envoys from Greece, Serbia and Malaysia.
Xi said Beijing also wants to expand the scope of its initiative by encouraging cooperation among Belt and Road countries on health, water resources, agriculture and science and technology. He promised to fund scholarships for students from Belt and Road countries.