German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA)

InfluenceMap Score
Performance Band
Organisation Score
Modifications to InfluenceMap Scoring
Berlin, Germany

Climate Lobbying Overview: The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) appears to be actively lobbying EU and German climate policy for the automotive sector with negative engagement. The VDA has historically criticized long-term EU and German GHG emissions targets, while recently supporting an EU 2050 climate neutrality target. It has consistently opposed more stringent EU CO2 standards for light-duty vehicles and phase-out dates for internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles, including a proposed EU 2035 CO2 zero-emissions target for cars and vans.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: The German Association of the Automotive Industry appears to have mixed top-line messaging on climate policy. Until October 2020, the VDA did not appear to clearly support long-term European climate targets, with VDA’s President, Hildegard Müller, publicly criticizing EU plans to increase its long-term climate targets, emphasizing cost and carbon leakage concerns in September 2020. However, in October 2020, a press release from VDA appeared to support a 2050 climate neutrality target for the first time, while taking an unclear position on near-term action to reach such a goal. Further communications from VDA in 2020-21, including its 2020 Annual Report, consultation response, and media statements have continued to support an EU 2050 climate neutrality target, without also appearing unsupportive of near-term action to reach such a target. Additionally, a VDA press release and German consultation response in May 2021 appeared critical of a proposed 2045 German climate neutrality target, emphasizing concerns around economic costs.

Evidence suggests that the VDA has been consistently unsupportive of ambitious regulation on climate change in 2019-21. The VDA has consistently used its support of carbon pricing at an EU-level to oppose more stringent forms of regulation, including in its 2021 ‘Climate Strategy 2050’ report and a 2020 EU consultation response. The VDA, in April 2020, also urged the EU to delay additional climate regulations for the automotive sector during the COVID-19 crisis. The VDA appears supportive of the Paris Agreement, stating “we explicitly support the Paris Climate Protection Goals” in a May 2021 press release and committing to the “goals of the Paris Agreement” in a 2020 position paper.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: The VDA appears to have consistently opposed increasing the EU’s CO2 emissions standard targets for cars and vans in 2019-21. Responses to EU consultations in klzzwxh:0005 and klzzwxh:0006, and a klzzwxh:0007, appeared to oppose an increase to the EU’s 2025 light-duty vehicle CO2 targets, while emphasizing the multiple, extensive qualifying pre-conditions, such as increased recharging infrastructure availability and other regulatory measures under which ambitions for 2030 and post-2035 targets could be increased. A July 2021 VDA press release appeared to strongly klzzwxh:0008 the EU’s proposed zero-emissions 2035 CO2 standard for cars and vans as part of the Fit for 55 package. Moreover, a November 2021 EU consultation response from VDA similarly stated klzzwxh:0009 to a 2035 zero-emissions CO2 target and stated a 55% 2030 target would be "a major challenge". In April 2020, the VDA also appeared to use the COVID-19 crisis to klzzwxh:0010 increases to CO2 standards for light-duty vehicles in a media comment and multiple 2019 comments from VDA’s former President, Bernhard Mattes, who appeared to klzzwxh:0011 higher CO2 standards for light-duty vehicles. A further 2019 press release from the VDA also appeared to oppose ambitious EU heavy-duty vehicle emissions standards, further stating that “the disproportionately high financial penalties, in particular, will threaten the existence even of major commercial vehicle manufacturers.”

The VDA appears to have actively advocated to include road transport in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) at the expense of other climate regulations in 2019-21, including in a November 2020 EU consultation response on updating the EU ETS. In a May 2021 position paper, the VDA 819480 argued that the “EU ETS should be the lead instrument for ensuring climate-neutral transport”, and in its June 2021 Climate Strategy 2050 report, stated that “the EU ETS 2 should become the new lead instrument and assume an umbrella function, so that the existing regulations only have a complementary effect.” A November 2021 EU consultation response from VDA further advocated for the inclusion of road transport in the EU ETS.

Regarding 2030 GHG target legislation, a September media statement from VDA’s President, Hildegard Müller, appeared unsupportive of a higher 2030 EU GHG emissions target of 55%, while a November 2020 VDA position paper similarly emphasized cost concerns and the need for further impact assessments before increasing the target to 55%. Similarly, a May 2021 German consultation response, and press release appeared to stress concerns around competitiveness and cost regarding a higher German 2030 GHG emissions target, with the press release arguing that further impact assessments were necessary before committing to the target.

Positioning on Energy Transition: The VDA appears to have consistently and actively lobbied against measures to phase out ICE vehicles in the EU and Germany, including in position papers in klzzwxh:0011 and klzzwxh:0012, and on their klzzwxh:0013 in 2021. Additionally, a 2020 EU consultation from the VDA directly stated “we firmly oppose a ban on combustion engines.” A July 2021 VDA press release in response to the EU’s proposed plans for a zero-emissions 2035 CO2 standard for cars and vans appeared to oppose the policy, arguing that it amounted “to a ban on combustion engines.” In 2020, the VDA’s President also criticized California’s decision to phase out ICE vehicle sales by 2035 in a media statement. The VDA has instead consistently advocated that climate policy should support “a broad mix of technology” that includes ICE vehicles, such as in its 2020 Annual Report.

The VDA also appears to be prioritizing the role of synthetic e-fuels and a long-term role for ICE vehicles over the electrification of transportation in its messaging, including in multiple 2020-21 statements from VDA President, Hildegard Müller, arguing in 2021 that “the engine is not the problem, it is the fuel from fossil sources.” Moreover, the VDA further appears to support an increased role for e-fuels and hydrogen for light-duty vehicles in the EU’s mobility strategy in 2021, according to a press release, its website, and media reports. Statements from the VDA’s President in 2020 and 2021 appear to have strongly opposed stringent EU Euro 7 emissions standards for promoting the phase-out of ICE vehicles, later praising a proposed reduction in stringency from the EU in Euro 7 standards in May 2021 for not phasing out ICE vehicles.

More positively, the VDA has also supported the expansion of EU and Germany charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, including binding EU targets for member states in a klzzwxh:0014. In July 2021, the VDA klzzwxh:0015 the EU Commission’s plan to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure in a press release, arguing for increased funding. In a May 2021 German consultation response, the VDA also klzzwxh:0016 to expand EV infrastructure and to fully transition towards 100% renewable electricity in the energy mix, further klzzwxh:0017 increased EV infrastructure in another February 2021 German consultation response. The VDA also stated klzzwxh:0018 for taxing kerosene for intra-EU flights and taxing fossil fuels in maritime transport in a 2020 consultation response on the EU Energy Taxation Directive. In 2020, media comments from VDA’s President, Hildegard Müller, also appeared klzzwxh:0019 of the German ‘Umweltbonus’ (environmental bonus) grant for purchasing new EVs. However, other 2020 media comments from VDA’s president appeared to also support expanding German sales incentives to non-EV vehicles. Moreover, in September 2021, the VDA criticized the German government for introducing stricter criteria for plug-in hybrid purchase subsidies to promote the electrification of transport.

Main Web Site Social Media CDP Responses Legislative Consultations Media Reports CEO Messaging Financial Disclosures
Communication of Climate Science
Alignment with IPCC on Climate Action
0 0 NA 0 0 0 NA
Supporting the Need for Regulations
-1 NS NA -1 -1 -1 NA
Support of UN Climate Process
1 1 NA 1 -1 1 NA
Transparency on Legislation
Carbon Tax
-1 -1 NA NS NS NS NA
Emissions Trading
1 1 NA 1 1 1 NA
Energy and Resource Efficiency
-1 -1 NA -2 -2 -2 NA
Renewable Energy
-2 -2 NA NS NS -2 NA
Energy Transition & Zero Carbon Technologies
-1 -1 NA 0 -1 0 NA
GHG Emission Regulation
-2 -2 NA -2 -1 -1 NA
Disclosure on Relationships