The Knowledge-Base of the Stuttgart Automobile Industry and Its Outreach
Tobias Buchmann and Ekaterina Savchenko
Abstract In this chapter we study the diffusion of automotive knowledge created in the Region of Stuttgart. Patents leave a paper trail in the form of citations that we analyze in order to show which regions learn from e-mobility and fuel cell knowledge created in the region of Stuttgart. We show that citations of the patents of both technologies tend to localize in Germany, Japan and the US. However, in case of e-mobility, while aggregating the countries by groups, the largest number of citations is made by European, more precisely Western European countries. The fact, that domestic knowledge flows in fuel cell technology are not the most intensive can be explained by the early stage of the technology and that there is no hard fundament, on which the new knowledge can be built.
Germany is the country with highest production of cars in Europe (Fig. 1). The automotive industry plays a central role in the German national economy. Rather than being distributed all over the country, we find that important national firms are clustered in only a few regions (Buchmann and Pyka 2014). Stuttgart constitutes one of these clusters. It ranks number two (below Lower Bavaria) among all German NUTS 2 regions with regard to the specialization index calculated by the European Cluster Observatory. The region of Stuttgart is a core automotive region in terms of production but also with regard to R&D (including engineering).
Fig. 1 Passenger car production in Europe (source: ACEA: European Automobile Manufacturers Association 2014)
Stuttgart is one of the regions with the highest concentration of automotive related firms and research institutes. This region captures the entire chain of car production, from R&D up to marketing and sales. Daimler and Porsche as well as first tier suppliers such as Bosch can be found among the firms which have their headquarters in this region.
The automotive industry has been dominated by the paradigm of the internal combustion engine (ICE) for over 125 years. On the 29th of January in the year 1886, Carl Benz applied for a patent on his “Fahrzeug mit Gasmotorenbetrieb” at the Reichspatentamt in Berlin (Patent DRP 37435). Since this day, the original technology improved remarkably in terms of efficiency and power. However, from today’s perspective the possibilities to further improve this technology in terms of energy efficiency and pollution are limited and hence conflict with the overall European environmental aims to reduce the dependency on oil and decrease emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere (European Commission 2009). Consequently, new technologies based on renewed knowledge-bases are currently developed to better meet the requirements of future customers and regulatory authorities. Amongst the most prominent new technologies are battery and fuel cell based vehicles. For a long time, the Stuttgart regional industry structure was focused purely on the paradigm and the corresponding automotive architecture of the ICE. More recently, alternative technologies such as electric cars and fuel cell
ers stands for the employment in a region in the x cluster, Es refers to the European employment in the x cluster, Er represents total employment in a region and E total employment in Europe.
technologies found increasing interest by managers and engineers. The technological competences which are required to produce battery and fuel cell powered cars are not entirely new but to some extent related to nowadays mass produced vehicles. In addition, alternative technologies are increasingly supported by policy makers and have become included in the national and regional development plans, e.g. the National Electric Mobility Platform.
The aim of this chapter is to track the inventive output of the Stuttgart region with respect to electromobility and fuel cells as well of knowledge outflows to other regions in Germany and beyond. So, we study the knowledge in the field of electromobility and fuel cells produced in the region of Stuttgart. In doing this, we are mainly interested in the importance of this knowledge and the intensity of its outflows. The method of assessing this subject is analyzing patent citations.