A "revolution" underway in a morose climate: Angela Merkel has promised to help a car industry facing "Herculean" challenges and must regain public confidence, shaken by the "dieselgate".
The Chancellor officially opened Thursday the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA), the opportunity to address several messages to this industry-flagship in Germany.
"We never really know how the revolutions will unfold, and that's why we have to organize them in the most linear way possible," said the Chancellor.
However, "it would be a mistake to think that we could propose state subsidy programs that correspond to the innovations of the next ten years" in terms of reducing CO2 emissions, warned Ms. Merkel.
- "Herculean task" -
A must-see event, the embodiment of the power of the German automotive industry, the IAA is in crisis, deserted by many builders.
In Germany, the automobile and its hundreds of thousands of jobs are no longer sacred. Industrialists and politicians are under pressure to act against global warming, in a context marked by the success of the events "Fridays for future" and the breakthrough of the Greens in elections.
The automotive industry has "a huge task ahead of it," reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030, Merkel said.
Achieving this goal is partly due to the diversification of the automotive industry, with the development of electric motors. But this shift has a "price", she said. It requires the development of new infrastructures.
"The reliability of the charging infrastructure (batteries) is of paramount importance for the success of electro-mobility," she said, pointing out that the current 20,000 charging points in Germany were "far from being sufficient".
His government is due to present a set of climate-friendly measures on 20 September, some of which should have an impact on the auto industry. "Fundamental decisions" will be unveiled, promised Ms. Merkel on Thursday.
Meeting this challenge is "a herculean task for you and us," she told automakers. Especially since the "trust" of consumers has been shaken by the "inadmissible" systems of rigging of diesel engines set up by several manufacturers.
Sign of this distrust, dozens of members of German NGOs were demonstrating in the morning near the show to claim "climate protection rather than SUV", these big 4x4 urban ubiquitous in the range of manufacturers.
- "Climate rather than SUVs" -
These massive vehicles are even more controversial in Germany since the accident occurred Friday in the center of Berlin, during which an SUV killed four people on a sidewalk. Voices are now rising to demand their ban in the city centers.
Merkel is expected to say to carmakers, who produce "bigger and bigger cars", that "you have to get out of gasoline and diesel, get out of the combustion engine and reduce the number of cars," he said. AFP Gerald Neubauer, spokesperson for the environmental NGO Campact.
Greenpeace organized an action on the Volkswagen and BMW booths as the Chancellor was touring the show: protesters mounted on SUVs and unrolled signs showing cars with the inscription "Climate Slayers".
A larger event is scheduled for Saturday.
The opening of the show comes in addition when Volkswagen is again suspected of cheating on a generation of diesel engines hitherto not concerned by the scandal, according to the public channel SWR. The manufacturer has denied any manipulation.
The manufacturer is also weakened by the "dieselgate" scandal, revealed in 20125, and its potential legal consequences. Volkswagen admitted to rigging regulatory tests on 11 million vehicles sold worldwide.
The automobile as a whole is going through a period of turmoil: technological upheavals that engulf billions of euros of investment, trade wars, threats of hard Brexit, and, in Europe, the entry into force next year of ceilings of CO2 emissions that constrain manufacturers to the expensive electrification of vehicles.
© 2019 AFP