by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

Results of the study “ELAB – Electric mobility and employment” presented: Alternative drive concepts offer opportunities in the automotive sector

The technological change in the automotive industry with a growing share of alternative drive trains generally offers opportunities for jobs in the automotive sector. This is the key finding of the “ELAB” study, the first broad-based, practice-oriented analysis of the effects of technological change in the automotive industry on employment. “ELAB” stands for “Auswirkungen der Elektrifizierung des Antriebsstrangs auf Beschäftigung und Standortumgebung”, German for “effects of the powertrain electrification on employment and the business environment”. The study’s key findings were presented and explained today in Stuttgart by all parties involved in the project.

The study examines the employment impact of various “green” drive concepts, which from today’s perspective will be represented in the market in 2030. Based on four market scenarios – each with a different mix of the various drive concepts – predictions are made for employment opportunities in the entire automotive value chain. As a consequence the entire automotive industry will benefit from the findings of the study.

The research project was initiated by the General Works Council of Daimler AG and started in December 2010 together with Daimler, IG Metall Baden-Württemberg (Industrial Union of Metal Workers) and the Hans Böckler Foundation. The Fraunhofer IAO, the IMU Institute and the Institute for Vehicle Concepts of the German Aerospace Center were commissioned with the research.

Premises of the study

The researchers defined six different drive concepts and their components as essential for the future and examined them in detail: the mild hybrid, the full hybrid including its plug-in version, the so-called range extender, all-electric vehicles with battery or fuel cell as well as vehicles with combustion engines.

An exact forecast of the actual market development of future drive concepts by 2030 is not possible. For this reason the study bases the employment forecast on four different market scenarios; a likely reference scenario from today’s perspective as well as three extreme scenarios.
In doing so, the study takes into account the uncertainty of the future development. Each scenario assumes a different speed of transition from the combustion engine to various “green” technologies. 

Results of the study

All scenarios forecast a growing share of alternative drives and yet a continued significant market share of combustion engines. The coexistence of several different drive concepts will result in at least steady to intermittently rising employment in the industry as analysis of the studied value chain shows. The study finds that there may be profound changes within the value chain.

Since the complex development and production of electric cars is currently still characterised by market uncertainties, business and economic risks for manufacturers and suppliers also must be taken into consideration. The technological change will also lead to new production flows and technologies. Heretofore unused or completely new manufacturing methods will be employed.
Employee qualification requirements will change accordingly. This profound change in the manufacturing job world means employer and employee representatives must define future employee skills and qualification requirements and anchor them in daily job routine by means of appropriate training and continuing education.

The study results now in hand offer all corporate, societal and political participants a sound basis for a continued proactive shaping of the change process and dialogue on this key issue for the future.

Statements from the project participants

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Spath, Head of Institute Fraunhofer IAO, summarizes the results of the “ELAB” study: “With regard to the electrification of the powertrain, jobs will not only be created in research and development, but also in manufacturing. Powertrain manufacturers capable of producing conventional and also non-conventional powertrain components competitively will be able to count on at least steady employment in each of the analysed market scenarios”.

Wilfried Porth, Board Member for Human Resources and Director of Labour Relations at Daimler: “The transition of the drive technologies from the combustion engine to new drive concepts will run on several parallel tracks for a very long time. From an HR policy perspective this means sufficient employment potentials will still exist in the future. Overall, the companies - and by extension we as Daimler as well – will examine in detail which scopes to produce ourselves and which ones might potentially be realised in an economically and technologically practical manner by using cooperative ventures. Furthermore there are demands for in-house qualification as well as for professional training, with which we at Daimler cope successfully for quite some time already. But there will be challenges in this area that go beyond what the companies can provide on their own”.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Board Member for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development: “Sustainability must be a global requirement. But in order for alternative drive technologies to become accepted on a broad base by the market, everybody must pull together. And if policy makers at the same time create stabile and fair general conditions for the customers, we will succeed together in substantially shaping the next era of individual mobility from within Germany”.

Erich Klemm, Chairman of the General Works Council at Daimler: “The positive employment forecasts of the ELAB study are gratifying. However, this does not imply any statement on how secure the jobs are in existing powertrain manufacturing plants respectively in regional automotive clusters. This is decided by the companies in determining the vertical level of manufacturing integration and regional production structures. On the corporate level we will continue our on-going efforts to ensure that electric mobility will become an opportunity for the Daimler AG workforce and not a risk”.

Jörg Hofmann, District Manager of IG Metall Baden-Württemberg: “The market scenario that prevails will shape the changes within the value chain and consequently the quantitative and qualitative effects on employment. Whether this structural change will take place in a socially viable way and will even provide opportunities for qualified employment, or whether it acts as a job killer for workforces and the region depends on the investment decisions regarding production sites and products. The opportunities for the automobile cluster Baden-Württemberg are good – capitalizing on them is the responsibility of all participants”.

Dr. Jürgen Dispan, Project Manager and scientist at the IMU Institute: “The production of hybrid and electric cars will also change qualification requirements, which will necessitate appropriate education strategies for manufacturing and assembly employees. An important part of this is qualification for ‘dealing with high-voltage systems’. Expanded skills requirements for production employees also arise from the optimisation of the combustion engine. The industrialisation of the new components of the electric powertrain can only succeed in Germany with qualified specialists – and by achieving that, employment and value creation can be safeguarded”.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Horst E. Friedrich, Director of the Institute for Vehicle Concepts at the German Aerospace Center: “By 2030 a multitude of electrified vehicle concepts will exist side by side in the market. Vehicles driven solely by combustion engines will continue to account for a large market share. The continuously increasing electrification of the powertrain in the form of mild, full and plug-in hybrids will ultimately result in purely battery-powered vehicles also gaining market relevance”.

Dr. Nikolaus Simon, Head of the Management Board of the Hans Böckler Foundation: “We thank all researchers and sponsors of the ELAB study. There now are scientifically valuable as well as practically relevant project results available. This type of project will become a fixture in the foundation’s research sponsorship”.

Credits: Daimler AG

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