Running on empty

DW looks at the institutional impediments to change in the all-powerful automobile industry. And OMG are the car folks all powerful—for some very good reasons. Germans invented the internal combustion engine—both gasoline and diesel. The nation's driver associations have even managed to keep parts of the autobahn speed-limit free. And should a driver do something seriously stupid and crash, the authorities have access to rescue crews on hair-trigger alert. This is not to say the rest of the country always approves of these James-Dean wannabees setting transportation policies. Environmental activists recently managed to ban automobile traffic in central Stuttgart—the home of Porsche and Mercedes Benz.

But the serious power is still held by the manufacturers and their conventional wisdom which says—the automakers are the most important element of the German economy and you tamper with them at great risk. In that nearly rules-free environment, they twiddled their thumbs and made fat profits from ICE cars. Now their biggest market, China, is demanding that they get serious about selling electric cars. This is proving much harder than it looks—and WAY more expensive. Here DW has captured a fascinating look at smug auto executives spouting the conventional wisdom / Institutional Inertia.