BMW E-Mobility Event at E-Werk

Ambassador John Emerson

Vielen Dank, Nicola Brüning, und herzlichen Glückwünsch an BMW zum neuen i3.

Thorsten Mattig, it is a pleasure to meet you.  I am very interested in hearing more about BMW i Ventures.   Two weeks ago, Kimberly and I visited BMW’s manufacturing plant in Munich.  We were very impressed, not only by the robotics and efficiency of the plant, but also by the successful effort to capture and re-use every bit of scrap generated by the manufacturing process, even down to the drops of paint that is sprayed on the cars.  That attention to the environment is reflected throughout the i3.   A large percentage of mutual transatlantic investment is devoted to cutting edge research and development.  This R&D is representative of the huge stake we share in the future of each other’s economies.  BMW i Ventures, which is based in the United States, leverages corporate venture capital and investment.  Increasingly, this is proving to be a very successful way to foster innovation.  I think it is fantastic to see this model applied to the automotive and mobility sectors – areas of tremendous importance for both the United States and Germany.

BMW USA produces over 300,000 vehicles per year at its plant in South Carolina.  And who knows? Perhaps in the near future, e-vehicles like the i3 will be coming off that assembly line in Spartanburg.  President Obama wants the United States to become the first country to have one million electric vehicles on the road.  Right now, there are 14 plug-in models available from eight car manufacturers; and we are very happy to welcome BMW to that market.  But when it comes to e-mobility, we all need to do more, not less.  For that reason, we have pledged two and a half billion dollars in federal grants to support the development of next-generation electric cars and batteries.  Several states have established incentives and tax exemptions and other incentives for e-cars; that is in addition to federal government tax credits.  These measures are paying off.  The United States was the world’s leader in plug-in electric car sales in 2012.

I am very happy to that my friend and fellow Californian Christine Kehoe is here.  Whether in Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach, or in other incubator regions, we Californians are proud of our reputation and our record for innovation.  In the area of e-mobility, for example, of the 5,678 charging stations in the United States at ‘last count,’ over twenty percent are in the Golden State.

Staatssekretär Bomba, Deutschland kann zu Recht stolz auf seine Innovationen sein. Ich bin jetzt etwas länger als drei Monate hier und habe fast jedes Bundesland besucht. Überall war Innovation ein Thema. Letzte Woche war ich in Leipzig und habe viel über Silicon Saxony gehört. Senatorin Yzer, die Berliner Silicon Allee ist mir natürlich auch ein Begriff.

Germany and the U.S. are global leaders in terms of innovation.  As partners, we can and should be proud of our record in together developing, implementing, and bringing to market new technologies.  It has been the basis of our prosperity in the past.  We need to do all that we can to make sure that it remains so in the future.  This is one of the reasons why T-TIP is so important.  The rules-based approach that it represents will facilitate cooperation and collaboration – in particular when it comes to innovation and new technology – not only with trans-Atlantic partners, but partners around the world, such as China.

One of the aims of T-TIP is also to abolish tariffs on imported cars.  To bring it home, that tariff reduction could mean 300 million Euros a year to BMW.

But when Chancellor Angela Merkel says that, she, too, wants to see one million electric vehicles on German roads by 2020, we welcome the cooperation that this commitment represents.  As the Chancellor herself says, extensive cooperation across branches of industry and across national borders – in addition to stamina and vision – will be needed to foster electro-mobility.  This is a crucial initiative.   It will be critical to job creation, innovation, and also the conservation goals of all countries in the coming decades.

The success of BMW USA makes it very clear that the United States and Europe – and Asia – share both an automobile and a supplier industry.   Standardization is vital.  It allows a multinational company to build components in one country that are applicable in another, and vice versa.  The carbon fiber used in the new i3, for example, was made in Moses Lake, Washington.

Last year, the Transatlantic Economic Council, the fore-runner of T-TIP, took a number of important steps to promote the development of a transatlantic, indeed global, market for electric vehicles.  The TEC endorsed a comprehensive work plan for e-mobility, electric vehicles and related infrastructure.  The plan focused on the development of common global rules and compatible trans-Atlantic standards and cooperation among standard setters and regulators.  It also included new initiatives aimed at strengthening regulatory cooperation in multilateral fora, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

A key component of the work plan was the decision to establish “interoperability centers,” or living laboratories, allowing scientists from both sides of the Atlantic to share data, equipment, and testing methodologies.  The first EU-US interoperability center for e-mobility and smart grids was inaugurated at Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago, in July 2013.

Few products are as complex to develop and produce as gasoline-powered automobiles, which are assembled with thousands of precisely engineered parts.  But electric cars use only basic motors and gearboxes.  They’re both cheaper and easier to build.

And so, what impact would a simpler-to-produce product with a key performance-defining component –like an e-car – have?

Consider the example of Thomas Edison.  He didn’t just invent the light bulb; he invented an industry.  While other inventors around the world were working only on the bulb, Edison conceived an entire network of generators, meters, transmission lines, and substations.  Most important, he showed how all those elements could be combined into a profitable business.

Edison’s approach was a blueprint for industry creation.  It had four separate components: an enabling technology, an innovative business model, a careful market-adoption strategy, and favorable government policy  Now as then, the challenge is not just to invent technologies; it’s to create the new industries that can grow up around those technologies. And there is no question that with this addition to the world of electric mobility, BMW has taken a great step in that direction

Ich möchte BMW nochmals für sein Engagement auf dem Gebiet der E-Mobilität danken. Sie gehen die Herausforderungen an und nutzen die Chancen.

Heute Abend begleiten mich meine Frau Kimberly und unsere Tochter Jackie. Wir finden es sehr schade, dass wir nicht lange genug bleiben können, um eine Testfahrt mit dem neuen i3 zu machen.  Aber wir würden gerne wiederkommen, um das nachzuholen.

Ich wünsche Ihnen alles Gute.