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From Site Selection magazine, November 2018

New  Directions

The Federal State of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany — the birthplace of the automobile — is ready to disrupt its own industry.

The sculpture “Inspiration 911,” created by the artist Gerry Judah, adorns the Porscheplatz corporate campus in Zuffenhausen in Greater Stuttgart, which one can now navigate using a new app — one small part of the e-mobility revolution. In recent years, Porsche has invested around €1 billion in facilities in Greater Stuttgart.
Photo courtesy of Porsche


An already visionary German automotive sector in September took a further step into tomorrow at the inauguration of a €200-million, 300-job Test and Technology Center from Daimler located in Immendingen.

"Immendingen will play a key role in developing the mobility of the future," said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, describing the work to be conducted in such areas as alternative drive systems, hybrids, electric vehicles (EVs) and autonomous driving.

Daimler and thousands of other companies couldn't have chosen a better territory for exploration — a unique entrepreneurial ecosystem committed to meaningful, transformative innovation. Baden-Württemberg finds itself at the forefront of redefining mobility, fully committed to autonomous and emission-free vehicles and leading a strategic dialogue on the future of the automotive industry that includes the personal participation of leading corporate CEOs and board members.

Baden-Württemberg is home to more than 1,000 suppliers and more than 440,000 automotive jobs.

"The automotive future and the future of the state Baden-Württemberg are profoundly linked," said Thomas Strobl, deputy prime minister of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. "In our state the car was invented — that´s our motivation to lead the innovation. We want to develop Baden-Wuerttemberg into the most innovative mobility region of Europe."

With its efficiency, thought leadership and hunger for innovation, Deputy Minister Strobl's home state makes a strong case for CASE — the acronym used to describe four chief study areas: connected, autonomous, shared and electric. Automotive manufacturers in the state pour nearly 9 percent of their sales into R&D, helping Baden-Württemberg achieve international prominence as an R&D leader.

Test Bed for Tomorrow

That one place could embody such vision and foresight perhaps is no surprise, given that this is the state that gave birth to such luminaries as composer Friedrich von Schiller, writer Herman Hesse, philosophers Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel and Martin Heidegger and artist Otto Dix. Nearly as far-ranging as their genius is the state's geography and topography, encompassing such wonders as the Black Forest, the headwaters of the Danube, Lake Constance and the edge of the Alps, the Rhine Valley and the fertile Neckarland region along the Neckar River.

The human firepower flowing across those landscapes is no less varied: People from 188 different countries populate a state gaining in its reputation for being international, cosmopolitan and tolerant, even as some territories seem headed in a different direction.

When it comes to corporate presence, the state's capital city of Stuttgart, with an urban area population of 2.7 million, is a fertile region, home to Daimler's global HQ as well as headquarters campuses of such companies as Bosch, Porsche, IBM and Hewlett-Packard. The clustering of high-performance global companies alongside centuries of middle-class, family-led mittelstand firms is no accident, and key to Baden-Württemberg's value proposition:

  • Industry Leadership: Daimler, Porsche & Audi all run their EV programs and manufacturing in Baden-Württemberg, a state more advanced than most when it comes to practically applying the industrial Internet of Things in the digital factories of tomorrow. The state is home to nearly 1,800 EV charging stations — more than 16 percent of all the stations in Germany.
  • Trust, Reliability and Sustainability: "Made in Germany" has no better exemplar of quality — nowhere else in the world does there exist a higher density of "Hidden Champions" leading their markets (25 times more than in the U.S.). The government follows suit, marrying the region's conservative values with a modern, sustainable and responsible industrial policy ideal for nurturing such fields as mobility.
  • Efficient and Profitable: State leaders say it right up front: "We do not believe in low cost or state incentives. Our wealth has been created through the efficiency of an extremely hard-working, perfectly skilled and well-equipped workforce, looking to do things just a little bit better every single day."
  • Soft Landing, Quick Start: Aided by a talent pipeline of 120,000 students and apprentices a year coming into the automotive industry, companies also can tap into the well of experience at such firms as Eisenmann, ElringKlinger, Dürr, ZF, Bosch, Schuler and many more in order to get operations launched.

Yes, the cradle of the automobile is being rocked. But this state is ready to rock on.

"We are now about to cross the threshold toward a major disruptive change," wrote Winfried Kretschmann, prime minister of the State of Baden-Württemberg, earlier this year in laying out the crux of the strategic dialogue. "You might as well say that mobility is currently being re-invented, and this at a never-before-experienced pace."

The reinvention involves places as well as products: The new Daimler center in Immendingen has been built on the site of the former Oberfeldwebel-Schreiber Barracks, and is thus a prime example of the successful conversion of former military sites. "Due to the rapid approval phase, the short construction period and the open and transparent overall process, the Test and Technology Center is regarded as a model project for major construction projects in Germany," said Daimler.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the project no less than a model for successful structural change.

"As we open the Immendingen Test and Technology Center of Daimler today," she said in September, "we open a door to the future."

This Investment Profile has been produced under the auspices of Baden-Württemberg International, at the disposal of domestic and foreign companies, research institutes and universities as a central point of contact for all matters relating to internationalization. For more information, call +49(0)711 227 87-18 or visit

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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