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Comparison of the personnel requirements under four scenarios in the ELAB study for an idealized production of 1 million powertrains. The FCV scenario requires most workers to produce the million powertrains. Source: ELAB Studienergebnisse. Click to enlarge.

The growing share of alternative drive trains in the automotive industry offers opportunities for jobs in the automotive sector, according to the “ELAB” study, the first broad-based, practice-oriented analysis of the effects of technological change on employment in the automotive industry. “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 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.

The study’s key findings were presented and explained 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.

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 range extender; all-electric vehicles with battery or fuel cell; as well as vehicles with combustion engines.

As an exact forecast of the actual market development of future drive concepts by 2030 is not possible, 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.

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 characterized 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, with heretofore unused or completely new manufacturing methods being 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, according to the 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 analyzed market scenarios.

—Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Spath, Head of Institute Fraunhofer IAO



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