By Paul Homewood
Germany is the birthplace of Karl Benz, the inventor of the automobile, and gave rise to the “People’s Car,” Volkswagen, which has grown into the world’s biggest auto manufacturer. It’s home to four brands—BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Porsche—that account for 80 percent of global sales of luxury vehicles. And with 835,000 workers, the auto industry is Germany’s biggest employer, responsible for a fifth of the country’s exports.
But automotive employment will start to decline this year, the powerful IG Metall union predicts. Germany may have reached peak car, posing a threat to the most important pillar of the economy. “We’re preparing for a time when fewer people will work in the industry in our region,” says Rüdiger Schneidewind, mayor of Homburg, a western city of 42,000 with four big factories that account for 30,000 jobs. “More than half of this region’s prosperity is due to…
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