Please provide an overview of the key themes and relevant INDUSTRY TRENDS surfacing in German media coverage over the past three months relating to electric vehicle charging, including electric vehicle sales, notable partnerships and company news, government infrastructure incentives and other discussions of note.
Hi there, and thank you for your request for key themes and relevant industry trends in the electric vehicle market arising in German media in the last three months, including charging, sales, partnerships and company news, government infrastructure and others.
The short version is that German media has reported on several key themes in the electric car market in the country in the last three months, including changes in the government's outlook on growth of the market; scarcity of charging stations hindering sales, BMW rising as third-largest producer in the world; Tesla's Model S being the best selling electric car in the country; labor issues threatening Tesla's electric car production in the country; cuts to funding for renewable energies hindering growth of the market; and the Continental-NIO partnership joining the market.
I elaborate on my findings below.
METHODOLOGY & ASSUMPTIONS
In order to answer your query, I looked for news in April, March and May 2017, in both English-speaking and German-speaking media from Germany. Below you will find information from DW, the Business Insider Deutschland, E-Comento, and Spiegel.
Please note that the information from German language media has been translated into English using Google Translate.
KEY THEMES AND TRENDS IN THE ELECTRIC CAR INDUSTRY IN GERMANY
1. SALES AND PRODUCTION ARE SLOWLY PICKING UP...
Sales of electric cars have gone up slowly since 2011. Back then there were only 2,307 electric cars in circulation, which grew to 12,156 in 2014, and up to 18,948 cars in late 2016.
In 2017, production and sales are slowly ticking up, as reported by Manager Magazin - to the point that the German electric car market represents 1.2% of total cars, and is on par with France and the UK.
However, the country is still significantly behind the top markets in Europe - Norway (35.3% of total cars), Sweden (4.3%) and the Netherlands (2.1%).
2. ...BUT ARE STILL LOW
Despite Germany's commitment to green energy, German society has not yet quite warmed up to electric cars - at least not as much as the government had hoped.
Sales have been much lower than anticipated, with a little over 34,000 in circulation as of May 2017. There are several reasons for this, as explained by Christoph Damm at Business Insider Deutschland - lack of infrastructure, lack of research and less convenience than a regular car are some of them.
However, the article found that the main reason is low public opinion on electric cars - despite them being a status symbol, they are still seen as more cumbersome option to regular cars. This situation, Damm argues, has to go through a change spearheaded by manufacturers.
3. GOVERNMENT 2020 GOAL IS MOST LIKELY NOT GOING TO HAPPEN
However, the pace at which electric cars are taking over the car market in Germany, it is most likely that the plan of the government to have one million electric cars in circulation by 2020 is not going to happen - as reported by E-Comento.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier in May that it was time for the government to give up on the goal - but that this did not mean failure in bringing electric cars to Germany, saying that the big break for electric cars could be very close.
4. GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS' LACK OF EFFICIENCY IS HINDERING GROWTH IN THE MARKET
One of the reasons why electric cars are not as popular as anticipated in Germany is the fact that funding to renewable energies has been cut in the last few years, as reported by Deutschland Funk.
In the eyes of the government, electric cars fall within the renewable energy sector - which means that cutting down on that funding makes it hard to develop infrastructure and invest in research, slowing down the market.
The private sector, particularly car manufacturers, are also wary of investing in the market, since the German consumer is taking longer than expected to jump on the electric car bandwagon.
5. PROBLEMS WITH CHARGING STATIONS STOP USERS FROM CONSIDERING BUYING AN ELECTRIC CAR
Another key issue with the electric car market in Germany is that it is actually hard to keep them running, due to scarcity of charging stations, which are few and far between in the country.
The problem is particularly acute when the user does not have a private garage where to charge his or her vehicle, which means they need to take it to a public charging station. In many residential areas around the country, this is simply not convenient, as found by Spiegel writer Christian Frahm.
And even if you did locate a charging station, there is a high chance that it may not be working properly: in order for electricity to flow and charge the car, three different providers need to align their service, and this not always happens. Furthermore - when there is a problem, Frahm writes, it is hard to know which provider to call for help.
6. BMW RISES AS GLOBAL THIRD-LARGEST PRODUCER
German manufacturer BMW has become the world's third largest producer of electric cars, after US manufacturer Tesla and Chinese manufacturer BYD, which leads the market.
BMW has 7% of the electric car market (Tesla has 9% and BYD has 13%), as reported by DW. Looking ahead, BMW is planning to focus on luxury and high end cars, which can give the company an edge over its competitors.
BMW is rising as Germany's leading manufacturer, after Volkswagen's operations suffered following its involvement in an emissions scandal in late 2016 - though the company still holds hope to become a leader in the market.
7. TESLA IS THE FAVORITE ELECTRIC CAR IN GERMANY
US manufacturer Tesla is making a name for itself in the electric car market, as shown in the point above - even in Germany, where it is the favorite electric car (even above BMW or Volkswagen).
E-Comento reported that Tesla's Model S was the number one in sales of electric cars between February and April 2017 - saying that the brand is becoming synonym with electric car in the country.
One of the reasons why this model has risen to the top is its price - far more affordable than the second best seller, the Renault Twizy.
8. INDUSTRY AND LABOR PROBLEMS MAY IMPACT PRODUCTION
However, Tesla's operations in Germany may be hindered by some labor issues. Employees at Tesla in Germany (which arrived in early 2017 after purchasing the Prüm factory) have complained of poor working conditions, and have threatened with going on strike to demand better wages, shorter working days and far too much physical work.
They are also concerned over the lack of work, since after Tesla purchased the Prüm factory they have not produced for any other client. Workers are demanding job security and a contract that "ensures their future."
DW reported that work at the Prüm factory is fundamental to keep up with Tesla's production quota, and to keep up with its expansion in the electric car market - a strike could throw its numbers off.
9. CONTINENTAL-NIO PARTNERSHIP JOINS MARKET
German manufacturer Continental and Chinese manufacturer NIO have formed a partnership to produce electric cars in Germany, as reported by Heise.
They aim to bring new technology advances to electric cars, as well as smart navigation and other new improvements still in development. The companies have agreed to produce the new SUV ES8, with vehicle technology like air suspension systems provided by Continental.
To wrap up, German media has reported on several key themes in the electric car market in the country in the last three months, including changes in the government's outlook on growth of the market; scarcity of charging stations hindering sales, and BMW rising as third-largest producer in the world, among others.
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