German car industry faces ‘existential threat’ from political attack and electric vehicles

Germany’s car manufacturers face an existential crisis and risk going the way of Britain’s once-mighty car industry within ten years, Volkswagen has warned in the grimmest assessment to date.

Herbert Diess, the company’s chief executive, said Germany is not ready for the revolutionary effects of the electric vehicle and is under political assault from those challenging the whole concept of car ownership and mobility.

He told VW suppliers gathered in Wolfsburg – the sanctum sanctorum of German auto preeminence – that the sector is under a competitive threat of the first order and must embrace root-and-branch reform to survive. “Nothing is guaranteed for eternity,” he said.

“If you look at the former bastions of the auto industry such as Detroit, Oxford-Cowley, or Turin, you can see what happens to cities once their dominant companies and industries falter,” he said.

“As things stand today, the chances are perhaps 50:50 that the German car industry will remain at the pinnacle of the world in ten years,” he said.

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