Germany aiming to be the first country to put driverless cars on the streets
German politicians came together with vehicle industry bosses and trade union leaders to discuss the country’s beleaguered automotive industry on Tuesday. During the meeting, the participants agreed that Germany should begin to pioneer the use of self-driving cars.
No drivers needed
On Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted a video conference with federal ministers, representatives from the automotive industry, trade union leaders and the heads from “car states,” to discuss the digitisation of transport. At the end of the meeting, there was a general agreement that Germany should take a “leading role in autonomous driving.”
During the meeting, a target was set for self-driving cars to be used regularly in Germany by 2022. There were also discussions regarding the creation of a “mobility data room,” a data centre which would collect, process and store the data needed for autonomous vehicles.
Following the meeting, a new law is set to be drafted that will help make Germany "the first country in the world to permit driverless vehicles in regular operation as well as in the entire country.”
Protecting the environment
One important decision the government made during the meeting was that they did not agree to a buyer’s premium for people who buy new, petrol cars. The idea of giving a grant to those who buy non-electric cars was backed by the car companies and trade unions but opposed by the Green party, who said the government would be financing the destruction of the environment.
Saving the automotive industry
The meeting failed to resolve some of the more immediate challenges facing Germany’s automotive industry. Lower Saxony’s Minister-President, Stephan Weil, said after the meeting that “the very immediate challenges have not been resolved.” He explained that while the problem was discussed, no clear course of action was decided on for helping vehicle parts suppliers, who have been struggling during the crisis.
However, a second “car summit” will take place in November, with the aim of reaching concrete agreements on a uniform payment system and customer-friendly charging points for electric cars.