While the after effects of the Corona pandemic are still present, new issues are already being raised: how will the transformation in the energy sector affect vehicle manufacturers? What new customer requirements need to be taken into account? In which areas are investments worthwhile? What does a sustainable business model look like?

Photo credit: © Bjoern Wylezich, Nr. 367903112 / Shutterstock.com

The turnaround in energy policy is gaining momentum. Moreover, with the new federal government, the pace is likely to pick up even more, as Germany is unlikely to meet its CO2 emission targets without additional efforts.

A key area is the transport sector, the CO2 emission of which accounted for around 22 per cent of the total emissions in Germany in 2020. The aim here according to the Federal Climate Change Act is a reduction of over 40 per cent by 2030.

If one considers that since 1990 – i.e. during the course of 30 years – transport emissions only fell by around 11 per cent all in all by 2020, it becomes clear what a radical change in the transport sector will need to be coped with during the next nine years or so. Added to this is the fact that 2020 was an exceptional year, as traffic performance fell significantly in the short term under Corona conditions and therefore the figure of 11 per cent is a rather optimistic value.

The imminent changes will also be a challenge for vehicle manufacturers. At the same time, one aspect must not be forgotten: the demand for liquid fuels will not collapse all of a sudden. Around 59 million motor vehicles and some five million oil-fired heating systems are in need of refuelling and will not vanish overnight.

It is also becoming increasingly apparent that this existing equipment cannot be completely electrified. There will be a demand for liquid fuels, which will always be lower in CO2, in the future too.

Consequently, there will also be a corresponding need for tankers in the coming years, which will have to be serviced.

Vehicle manufacturers are currently talking about mainly stagnating to partly declining demand on the vehicle market. However, there are quite significant differences here. Business is better with delivery vehicles, tractor-trailers and semi-trailers; in the case of airfield refuelling vehicles, sales have collapsed.

A differentiated picture is also emerging in the export trade, as countries are affected differently by Corona. In the case of special superstructures, the companies are reporting a steady order situation and in some cases slight renewed growth.

The Corona pandemic generally resulted in supply chain disruptions. In the case of vehicle manufacturers, this affected measuring equipment, chassis or small parts, for example, which were delivered with substantial delays. Increases in material prices were also recorded. The companies reacted with a prospective purchasing policy and thereby secured their order processing.

Another positive aspect for the future: owing to an increased change from fossil to biogenic or synthetic fuels, only minor adaptations in the vehicle and fittings sector are expected. The vehicle manufacturers are therefore well-equipped for the situation.

There are already initial approaches for further options. Hydrogen transport is worthy of mention here, but also the gradual electrification in the vehicle sector.

It is to be expected that a number of interesting innovations will already be on display at the upcoming expo PetroTrans and expo GasTrans in Kassel between 22nd and 24th September 2022.