Auto supplier network to prepare for e-mobility
Da is the Mahle factory in Wölfersheim, for example. The name of the subsidiary reveals what the Wetterau employees of the Stuttgart group, which has a total of 80,000 employees, do. It is called Mahle Ventiltrieb GmbH and manufactures valves for car engines. That means: in a combustion engine. From 2035 onwards, however, the European Union only wants to allow vehicles that do not emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. It not only increases the pressure on car manufacturers. Suppliers must also adapt to the age of e-mobility set.
A new network for companies in Central Hesse and the Wetterau. There are well over 200 suppliers in the area between Limburg and Herborn, Marburger Land, Büdingen and Karben. These include a number of market leaders such as Bender GmbH in Grünberg, which was awarded the title of Hessen Champion, two Continental companies in Karben and, in the form of Isabellenhütte from Dillenburg, which was first mentioned in 1482, the oldest industrial company in Hessen.
230 suppliers have been recorded so far. The regional management and the technology transfer company of the three universities in Gießen, Mittelhessen and Marburg, TransMIT, expect a similar number of unreported cases. Because the industry is characterized by medium-sized and small companies. Not everyone does public relations. The network is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection. 5.5 million euros are available until the end of June 2025.
Answer basic questions
In addition to the regional management and TransMIT, the network was initiated by an association that takes care of the content of the part-time study plus and the University of Marburg. Cluster researcher Thomas Brenner and innovation researcher Michael Stephan are responsible for this university.
You first want to answer a number of fundamental questions: How far along are the companies in terms of digitization? Where do the suppliers stand with regard to the Internet of Things, i.e. the networking of devices? And to what extent are they involved with electromobility? They also want to know what help the companies are hoping for from the network and the scientists.
The scientists want to work out certain characteristics in order to be able to compare the Mittelhessen/Wetterau car region with other areas such as the one around Stuttgart. In addition to large car manufacturers such as Mercedes and Porsche, many well-known suppliers are based there. There are already signals from this region about cooperation with the Hesse, it was said at the first meeting of the network in Wetzlar. It is also easy to compare because there is also a strong optical industry there.
The companies are different
At the end of the day, there should be an overall strategy for the Mittelhessen/Wetterau car region. Which fields of technology are being worked on? Which partnerships are necessary? And what qualifications are required? Conclusive answers to these questions, among others, are to be found over the next three years. However, the aim is to have an effect far beyond the year 2025 and the ongoing funding of millions. One day, the network should work without federal funds and ensure secure jobs in flourishing companies. Especially since the transformation away from the combustion engine and towards electromobility will not be complete by the end of June 2025 – so the tenor.
One thing is clear: the companies are at different stages. There are some pioneers among them. Bender, for example, claims to be represented in nine out of ten charging stations with its solutions for electrical safety. With an innovative charging system for electric vehicles, an entire family of devices, the medium-sized company successfully applied for the Hessen Champions competition in 2019, which is backed by the Hessian business associations and the Ministry of Economics.
A motorcycle supplier is located in Rauschenberg in the form of SW-Motech. The niche manufacturer works with Harley-Davidson and a Tesla start-up on e-bikes. According to a company representative, Isabellenhütte has long been involved in electromobility as a manufacturer of materials for temperature measurement and passive components for the automotive, electrical and electronics industries. If the company didn’t understand anything about transformation, it would not have survived the past 500 years, said its representative confidently.