German automakers bet on electric cars

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A car is parked at a charging point for electric vehicles in London, Britain, March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) – Germany’s massive car industry is the biggest investor worldwide in electric vehicles, a study published yesterday found, as it scrambles under increasing pressure to adopt low-emissions technology.

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Over the past two years, German carmakers Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW announced 4.7 billion euros of investment worldwide in electric cars, the study by consultancy EY found.

That far outstripped the 335 million invested by US manufacturers and just 19 million by Japanese firms.

Adding up investments announced by the world’s biggest 16 manufacturers over the past two years, Germany was the biggest destination with some 3.2 billion euros ($3.9 billion) poured into electric cars – far more than China’s 990 million euros or the 887 million seen in the US.

“The importance of electric-powered cars will grow considerably in the medium term,” forcing automakers to ratchet up spending on the technology, EY car industry specialist Peter Fuss said.

As elsewhere around the world, German carmakers have a slew of electric and hybrid models slated for release over the coming years.

The sector has “taken its time” to get serious about battery power, Mr Fuss said.

But major spurs to adoption of the technology have emerged in recent years.

In China, the biggest car market worldwide, manufacturers will from next year face stringent quotas for “new energy vehicles” as a proportion of their total sales.

At home in Europe, pressure on the industry has grown after a series of scandals, including VW’s 2015 admission to manipulating 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide to make them appear less polluting in the lab than they are in on-road driving.

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