Economy

Toyota v. Tesla, BMW or Bollore' - Who Will Cash In On The Car Of The Future?

Most carmakers know that the real money isn't in the car itself but in its parts and components, which are increasingly high-tech. Those who invest in development will win the revenue game.

Toyota's FCV hydrogen electric concept car
Toyota's FCV hydrogen electric concept car
David Barroux

PARIS — Ten, or even 40 years from now, the auto brands of today, from Renault to BMW to Ferrari, will probably still capture the imagination of car buyers. But who will cash in on the profits?

Most carmakers today know well that the value of a vehicle lies mostly in its parts and components, designed and made by French automotive parts manufacturers such as Faurecia, Plastic Omnium and Valeo — or foreign companies such as Bosch, Denso, Delphi, Mobis, etc. As the years pass, the market value and profits of these so-called "subcontractors" continue to rise, while those of car manufacturers seem to be on a constant rollercoaster. This trend is likely to continue as new heavyweights enter the automobile game.

When Toyota unveiled a hydrogen car, it was obviously hoping to earn brownie points from the public for its environmentally friendly image. But the Japanese carmaker is simultaneously trying to get ahead of its competitors in a race that will determine who will own the most patents on future forms of propulsion. Toyota, which has already established itself as the champion of hybrid technology with the Prius, could become a key partner for many manufacturers if its hydrogen-based technology becomes standard in the coming decades.

Toyota hydrogen fuel cell at the 2014 NY Int'l Auto Show — Photo: Joseph Brent

Today, Toyota sells cars. And although it recently decided to make 6,000 of its hydrogen patents available free of charge, the company could tomorrow diversify by sellings other patents, components — and even engines — to its competitors.

Caught up by the digital revolution, the car industry is also gradually coveted by the giants of this new economy. When Google develops an unmanned car, it's not really because it wants to start its own assembly lines — it's more to assert itself as a strategic supplier of software solutions for automobile manufacturers.

Although the threat may still seem distant, manufacturers should be aware that if they don't invest now in their own development of major technologies, they are heading toward misfortunes similar to what PC manufacturers endured. While Dell, Compaq, IBM and Lenovo have finally managed to grab the attention of the buying public, Intel and Microsoft — respectively, suppliers of microprocessors and software — were the ones who got the lion's share of the profits for years.

Tomorrow, Toyota, Tesla, Bolloré, Google and others will try to impose themselves as key figures in the automotive universe, relegating car manufacturers to the role of mere box makers.

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Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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