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Archive for 6. November 2019

Rethinking Productivity

Posted by hkarner - 6. November 2019

Diane Coyle is Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge.

Today, about four out of every five dollars spent in the OECD economies purchases services or intangible goods. This “dematerialization” of economies demands a more nuanced understanding of what drives productivity.

CAMBRIDGE – The word “productivity” typically calls to mind industrial assembly lines pumping out cars or washing machines, breakfast cereal or shoes. The word may also conjure images of crops being harvested, livestock being butchered, or houses being built. It is less likely to elicit thoughts of haircuts, streaming television, or mortgages. Yet nowadays, it is largely these kinds of intangible goods and services that define economies.

Many economists equate “total factor productivity” with technological progress. Northwestern University’s Robert Gordon, for example, predicts that productivity growth will continue to slow – as it has done in most developed economies since the mid-2000s – because today’s digital innovations are, in his view, less transformative than earlier advances like the flush toilet, radio, and the internal combustion engine. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Will Tesla and Google Kill the German Car?

Posted by hkarner - 6. November 2019

Date: 05-11-2019
Source: DER SPIEGEL.

The End of an Era

Threatened by entrepreneurs in California and by Chinese upstarts, German automakers are urgently trying to find their place in a new world of robots and electric cars. BMW, Daimler, Audi and VW set the standards for a century but have now fallen behind.

Germany Faces the Electric Car

History will be written on Nov. 4 at the VW plant in Zwickau, Germany. Anyone lucky enough to recently visit the factory, which is sealed behind blue rolling doors, entered into a secret world, a hidden industrial laboratory to which only a few Volkswagen employees have access. In its „ghost run,“ or test operation, orange-colored robots run by highly complex programs and aided by humans and machines assembled eight electric model-ID.3 cars per day for testing purposes. Serial production is now set to begin on Nov. 4. Depending on how you see it, this marks either the beginning or the end of an era.

In the future, 1,500 electric Volkswagen cars are to roll off the assembly line at the plant in the eastern state of Saxony every day, a total of 330,000 vehicles every year, in what the company describes as the „largest and most efficient electric car factory in Europe.“ The designers of the new compact, C-class ID.3 want to make it a 21st century icon, just as the VW Beetle and VW Golf were in their heydays. That’s advertising language, of course, but even from a neutral perspective, it is difficult to overestimate the significance of what is happening: In Zwickau, Volkswagen is ringing the death knell for the combustion engine. By 2040, VW plans to cease manufacturing all cars that run on gasoline or diesel fuel. It’s the end of an era.

And what a momentous era it was. It lasted over 100 years, and was shaped in decisive ways by German inventors and engineers — courageous entrepreneurs, visionary designers and highly competent, skilled workers. During this era, German automobiles became the epitome of the highest quality workmanship around the world. A time when Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche and Audi, and the objects of global prestige they produced, became ambassadors for Germany. Their finely tuned engines were models for industrial excellence. German cars were considered „das Auto“ par excellence and Audi’s advertising slogan „Vorsprung durch Technik“ (Progress through technology) became one of the few German terms actually known in English. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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