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German auto show focuses on clean future

By CHEN WEIHUA in Munich, Germany | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-09-09 10:40
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Great Wall Motors' plug-in hybrid, the Coffee 01, is displayed at the IAA Mobility show in Munich, Germany, on Monday. [LU YANG/XINHUA]

A top auto show opened on Tuesday with exhibitors displaying their latest innovations on electromobility in Munich, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the industry should be part of the solution to climate change.

At the opening ceremony of the 2021 International Motor Show Germany, or IAA Mobility, Merkel talked about how the German auto industry was reluctant to transition to electric cars several years ago, and only talked about it as concept cars. She then talked about the huge progress toward electric cars in the last few years.

"I am pleased that it is now unmistakable that the trend is clearly toward electric mobility," said Merkel, who will retire after the general election on Sept 26.

She cautioned against focusing only on battery-powered cars, saying carmakers should also explore alternatives such as hydrogen.

"The auto industry is not just part of the climate problem, but above everything else, a central part of the solution," she said.

It is the first large-scale show in Germany since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 700 exhibitors from around the world are expected to attend the show from Sept 7 to 12.

According to the Digital Auto Report 2021 by consulting firm Strategy&, the coronavirus has changed mobility worldwide. The study found that the majority of people are willing to change their personal mobility behavior in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, with 70 percent of respondents in Germany, 97 percent in China and 52 percent in the United States in favor of reducing their carbon footprint.

Volkswagen presented the ID.Life concept car at the show, with pricing for the small electric car starting at 20,000 euros ($23,628).

VW brand chief Ralf Brandstatter said the company is fully committed to electric mobility and is aiming for 70 percent of total electric vehicle production by 2030.

BMW launched the world premiere of its i Vision Circular concept car made 100 percent from recyclable materials.

Oliver Zipse, chairman of the BMW Group's management board, said the group aims to have at least one fully electric model on the road in each of around 90 percent of its current market segments by 2023.

ZF, a multinational technological company headquartered in Germany, presented the Modular eDrive Kit, which could reduce the development time for new e-drives by up to 50 percent. It also had its European premiere of ZF ProAI, regarded as the most flexible and power supercomputer for the auto industry. The ZF ProAI had made its global debut in a Shanghai auto show in April.

"Our strategic goal is to provide technology for 'Next Generation Mobility'," said Torsten Gollewski, executive vice-president of ZF's Autonomous Mobility Systems.

Mobility of tomorrow

"We already have all the necessary technologies for the vehicle and mobility concepts of tomorrow."

China's Great Wall Motors launched its plug-in hybrid WEY Coffee 01 SUV, which it will deliver to customers in the first half of next year.

Huawei also unveiled its intelligent automotive solution at the show.

"Currently, the automotive industry is at a critical point in its transformation toward connected, autonomous, shared, electric mobility," said Tang Ming, vice-president of Huawei's Intelligent Automotive Solutions business unit in Europe.

He said information and communications technologies are "slated to play an increasingly important role in this process and are embraced by the industry".

Though industrial leaders are touting their vision for electromobility and sustainability, environmentalists are not satisfied. Local police are expecting 60,000 demonstrators on Saturday to protest against the show.

On the opening day on Tuesday, activists were seen holding banners and dangling them from bridges above motorways, with one slogan reading "Stop driving climate change".

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