Interview with Stefan Bratzel + VW sales slump + Drones + Real estate bubble
This year will not be an easy one for the automotive industry either. Felix Lee spoke with automotive expert Stefan Bratzel about the challenges the sector is facing. In China, the competition from newcomers such as NIO and Xpeng is now stronger and more numerous than in Europe. Bratzel has identified various deficiencies among German suppliers: Their software is lagging behind, and they should show more flexibility in their supply chains during Covid times. In general, German manufacturers should question their high dependence on China, says the industry expert from the Center of Automotive Management. After all, trade disputes and human rights issues can quickly affect the German auto industry's billion-dollar business.
Real estate in China has been a kind of turbo savings account for many people from the middle and upper classes. This is because home prices have grown year by year – at times by several percent. As our Beijing team finds in today's analysis of the real estate market, this development could soon come to an end – thanks to the crisis at Evergrande and other real estate developers. But the very fact that a large share of private household savings is in real estate could slow down reforms in the sector. Beijing must tread carefully if it does not want to trigger more protests from savers.
It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie: drones delivering food. But in China, the little planes might be put into regular service as early as this year. At least, that's what the food delivery company Meituan is planning, reports Frank Sieren. After all, China's roads are so jammed that air delivery could save valuable minutes. In addition, Meituan faces regular criticism: Its drivers are not paid enough and have become modern-day slaves thanks to computer-controlled time pressure. Yet, Meituan made 27 million deliveries per day alone last year. This is one reason why drone delivery will remain a niche market for the time being.