Workload for an electric car is similar to that for a combustion engine


The switch to e-mobility threatens many jobs in Germany and Europe. According to experts, over 100,000 jobs at car manufacturers and suppliers could disappear in this decade alone. According to a current analysis, electric cars require a similar amount of work as internal combustion engines, but the German industry has not yet been active in a central component of the alternative drive type.

Electric cars are easier to manufacture, mainly due to the less complex engines. An analysis by the management consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG) nonetheless comes to the conclusion that there is hardly any difference in personnel and workload between building an electric car and building a vehicle with a combustion engine. For their investigation, the experts have broken down and compared each work step in production in detail, reports the Handelsblatt.

“The work volume comparison that three employees are required for a diesel drive and only one employee for an electric drive only applies to the engine,” explains study author and BCG partner Daniel Küpper. “The workload for building a complete electric car is almost as high as for a car with a combustion engine.”

According to the BCG analysis, the production of components for an electric car is a little less complex than that of a combustion engine. However, there is new work to be done, including battery cell and battery module production, as well as the assembly of battery packs, as well as power electronics and thermal management of the energy storage system. In addition, assembling the vehicles or laying the wiring harnesses in electric cars is more labor-intensive than in vehicles with internal combustion engines. The study also comes to the result that the added value of electric cars is currently 30 percent higher than that of a combustion vehicle, despite the lower number of components – the components for electric vehicles are therefore more valuable.

Despite a similar amount of work and greater added value according to the study: The BCG consultants also warn of job losses in Germany due to the structural change in the automotive industry towards electric drives. The problem is the lack of battery cell production, which accounts for eight percent of the working time when building an electric car. “Since the German automotive suppliers have not yet produced any battery cells, this volume of work in the German automotive industry will be lost if it is not reversed,” said Küpper.

The major German car manufacturers assemble their battery packs themselves, but they obtain the battery cells used in them from battery manufacturers who dominate the market in Asia. Only Volkswagen has decided to also produce its own battery cells. Even the German suppliers have so far foregone the production of electric car batteries, instead concentrating on the components for partially and fully electric drive trains. The federal government has recognized the problem for the local business location: Together with other countries, it is promoting European battery cell production; a first project with a German location in Kaiserslautern has already been decided.

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