Interview: Transrapid planner Hartmut Heine + Battery recycling insufficient
When it comes to making business in China, we like to revel in nostalgia. Just like we do with the Western world, there is a sort of over-glorification of some distant "good old times". But when exactly were these "good times?" Times, when the doors to the market opened without any government intervention, when friction with authorities and the public was nonexistent and Western companies could still rely on the rule of law? Hartmut Heine, our interview partner this Monday, tells us what manipulations and contortions were necessary to make a short Transrapid line a reality in Shanghai and how nerve-wracking it really was to do business with China in the past. But every technology has its time. Today, Heine wants to sell the Hyperloop, a modern form of the Maglev train inside a vacuum tube. He explains why it – somewhat paradoxically, has a better chance than conventional technology without a tube.
This example shows that something significant has changed since the first Transrapid line was introduced. "Back then, China had the big market and we had the technology," says Heine. Today, China is technically on par and would prefer to serve its market itself. "We have to accept that the Chinese have their own ideas and want to implement them."
The shift in technology is also creating new difficulties for individual mobility. Batteries for electric cars are filled to the brim with harmful chemicals. China is now inevitably taking a pioneering role in recycling: Lots of electric mobility equals lots of old batteries. Nico Beckert compares how the EU and China approach this upcoming problem.