“The crisis of diesel has totally transformed our industry “, says from the outset, Stefan Wolf, head of the automotive supplier ElringKlinger. The tone alarmist contrasts with the opulence of the place. From the meeting room bathed in light, where he receives us, at Dettingen on the Erms (Germany), in the countryside, about thirty kilometers south of Stuttgart, the landscape is idyllic.
“If you had asked me five years ago when the electric motor was going to arrive in a large series on the market, I would have answered starting in 2030. Now, I say to you from 2020. A very strong dynamic is underway, ” continued Mr. Wolf. In the shadow of the big manufacturers, it is on the sub-contractors, that is the pressure.
ElringKlinger is the world number one in the cylinder head gasket. This piece of metal the size of a sheet of A4 paper is a central element of the internal combustion engine. It is she who ensures the sealing of the cylinders. The group has a 70 % share of the global market. With 1.7 billion euros in revenue for the 9 600 employees, it is one of those “champions hidden” emblematic of the ” Mittelstand “.
These medium-sized companies, often owned and managed by a family, specialising in a niche industrial that they dominate the world, explain for many the wealth of the state of Baden-Württemberg. With 493 billion euros of gross domestic product (GDP), this region of the south-west of Germany is richer than Sweden, the seventh country of the european Union (EU) in terms of GDP. With a rate of less than 4 % of the active population, unemployment is almost non-existent.
The other name of the state of Baden-Württemberg, it is the ” Autoland. “Nowhere else in Germany, the prosperity is not linked to this point on the car and its central element for almost one hundred fifty years : the internal combustion engine. Approximately 230 000 people are directly employed in the sector,…