Germany’s Biggest Union Calls On Government To Help With Shift To EVs, But Also To Not Force Gas/Petrol Or Diesel Car Phaseout

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The largest union in Germany, IG Metall, has along with the car industry association VDA now called on Germany’s politicians and government to aid in the shift to electric vehicles — but also to not “force” the phaseout of internal combustion engine vehicles — according to recent reports.

So, what does that mean in practice? It seems to mean that IG Metall is aware of where things are headed and thinks the industry’s execs are not willing to do the necessary work to keep up with the changes themselves, or that they for some reason deserve help making the transition. Or, to think about that another way: The expectation is that the government should step in to help Germany’s auto industry maintain its current market position as the industry changes in a way that is “difficult” for them.

Considering the number of people employed by the auto industry in Germany, perhaps that makes some sense. Though, I’m skeptical that there won’t be at least some resistance in the country to such an approach. Many people in the country with employment ties to the large automakers may feel like their companies should get help with the shift, but many others in the country may feel like these auto giants — some of the world’s largest companies — shouldn’t be receiving any subsidies from German taxpayers.

Here are the comments from IG Metall chief Joerg Hofmann: “Politicians have a responsibility, too. Without the right infrastructure with charging stations, sustainable power production, storage and distribution, a rollout won’t succeed.”

Reuters provides more: “German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat in Merkel’s conservative-led ‘grand coalition’, stood by the industry, saying Germany must avoid phasing out combustion engine cars, as proposed by Britain and France. Carmakers also want to avoid a diesel ban in some cities, currently being considered by German courts.

“‘Electromobility is a big chance but it would be neglectful to write off the combustion engine now,’ said Gabriel, adding production of batteries for electric cars was important and needed state support.

“‘I am convinced we must not agree on an end to the combustion engine …. We must take steps to strengthen e-mobility but we must not lose sight of the potential of the combustion engine in the process,’ he said.”

This point of view was echoed by VDA president Matthias Wissmann, who argued that: “Regulations that are open in terms of technology and that let companies decide how to meet emissions goals would be wiser.”

I’m not quite sure that means … though, I’ll note here that Wissmann added that such an approach would “preserve jobs.”

As a reminder here, Germany’s national elections — where Chancellor Angela Merkel is aiming to win herself a fourth term — are slated to take place on September 24th.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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