After the resignation of VW boss Diess, who is considered a modernizer and visionary, one question above all arises: How future-proof is Germany’s automotive industry? Manufacturers are currently struggling with three main problems. But there is also a glimmer of hope.

This summer week, I’m looking forward to taking over the journalistic wake-up call for Gabor Steingart, who is on a well-deserved vacation – and above all for you. My name is Gordon Repinski, I’m the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of our media brand The Pioneer. Together with my colleague Lukas Herrmann and his team, we will provide you with economically competent and politically independent information this week. Here we go!

The change at the top of Volkswagen has an impact far beyond the city limits of Wolfsburg. With Herbert Diess a visionary is leaving who wanted to fundamentally modernize Germany’s largest car manufacturer and thus the most important branch of industry. Diess saw Tesla and the chances of the future, where some despaired and preferred to remember better times .

The fact that Diess now had to go poses a fundamental question for the entire industry: How much willingness there is for radical modernization? And how future-proof is the German automotive industry?

Volkswagen and the other German car manufacturers are struggling with three central problems:

Production in Germany is still a long way from the pre-pandemic levels. The volume in June 2022 was 19 percent below that in June 2019. In the current year, it is 32 percent below the comparative value of 2019.

In addition, the German car manufacturers are missing the connection with customers in the growth market of China. The software functions of the ID series from VW, for example, do not meet the demands of tech-loving Chinese customers. In the most important market for the Wolfsburg-based company, Chinese newcomers such as Nio and XPeng offer more powerful software systems. Experts see manufacturers such as BYD as an additional threat in the event of further expansion into Europe, including for the domestic market.

The economy is therefore dependent on a country for which it is no longer clear how long it will still be available as the largest sales market . The one-sided economic dependency with Russia in the energy sector has long since caused politicians to rethink. Political reliability is once again becoming a more important value – and the federal government has long been preparing strategy papers about the smooth decoupling from China.

For the auto industry, this means nothing less than: at least one third of the sales market is facing tough, political scrutiny.

But there are also glimmers of hope:

Conclusion: Herbert Diess may have failed as a visionary in Wolfsburg, but his ideas must still lead the way if the industry wants to make the leap into the future. It cannot be taken for granted that it will be successful. Because everything has to change constantly so that it can stay the way it is. The German automobile industry has the strength for this, it must now show the will to do so.