The policy-induced transition to electric vehicle production in Germany: Contradiction and coalitions between State and Industry

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Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Weis, Nathan


Gerpisa colloquium, Brussels (2023)


The year 2019 – few years after the diesel scandal – marks a hard cut in the strategies of Ger-man car makers who shift to ‘all electric’-strategies. While scholars have, since the early ambi-tions, emphasized the crucial role of the state in the transition towards the production of e-vehicles, several considered the German government’s measures too weak to initiate a profound change, referring to the German system of coordination between state, industry and trade unions and its’ likeliness to lead to policy capture.

However, the radical strategy changes of German car makers in the last few years erase the question of how policy and industrial actors interacted during this disruption of a mature indus-try. What have been the political economic contradictions and conflicts as well as the identical-ness, leading to coalitions? Can we consider the ‘non-conflictual’, coordination-based German regulation of its’ automotive industry as weak or do we have, quite the reverse, to see the rapid shift towards electric mobility as a policy-induced industrial transformation?

The main goal of this article is to reconstruct the creation of German e-vehicle market and the German car makers shift to it from the beginning of the industrial policy programs in 2007. We will focus on the crucial moments and conflicts between state and industry actors, their bargain-ing, negotiations and finally the building of coalitions and alliances, an enterprise governance compromise, that installed a new conception of control. The reason for this focus in founded in the importance of the automotive sector in Germany, based on ICE-technology and the question of why would and how could this productive model be transformed.
The main interest is to explore how the single policy instruments did influence the enterprises’ decisions and strategies, if and how they entrain an immediate effect in their product policies and thus result in a new market. Going through the acceptance, resistance and demands on the enter-prises’ side during this process, this article aims to carve the dialectics of market creation, work out the conceptual terms for the explanation of key industries’ transformation and thus discuss the question of power resources and hierarchies in state-business relations.

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