Silicon Valley seems to grab many of the tech headlines in the United States, especially when it comes to autonomous vehicles, cars that plug in, and the future of transportation.
Electric-car maker Tesla has undeniably contributed to Silicon Valley's automotive chops, but other makers are working to ensure they aren't left behind as software, electric drive, and internet connectivity combine in vehicles.
For German automakers, that efforts starts in what's coming to be called Silicon Saxony, the European nation's own Silicon Valley of sorts.
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The Financial Times (subscription rquired) details the rise, fall, and resurrection of the German region of Saxony over the last century.
The area is "the pioneer with regards to changes in vehicle production,” says Martin Dulig, the state’s economics minister. “Our Free State has everything required for these future technologies.”
Research institutes, specialty companies, and even Europe's largest-known deposit of lithium make Saxony a hotbed for future technology, especially electric cars.
Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept, 2017 Detroit auto show
The German state has a history of innovation, too; Saxony is home to the pre-war birthplace of the Audi brand, not to mention coffee filters, toothpaste, and the German steam engine.
However, two world wars ravaged the state and it became part of eastern bloc after Germany was partitioned into Western and Soviet spheres of influence.
Following Germany's 1989 reunification, Saxony began to thrive once again.
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Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW now all produce batteries and electric vehicles in the region.
Each and every automaker agrees that the region offers a sense of "openness" for innovation as well.
“In Leipzig, you can feel the openness to innovation and to new developments,” says Hans-Peter Kemser, who heads BMW’s plant in the ancient city.
Mercedes-Benz EQ electric car concept [photo: Axel Harries]
Silicon Saxony shows no sign of slowing down, either.
Daimler has just announced a new 20-hectare battery plant that is meant to support its slew of electric vehicles it plans to bring to market over the next nine years.
That's a change from the slower pace of German automakers as a whole to earlier phases of electrification.
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The luxury brands were focused on electric cars more as a way to cater to a booming Chinese market than a future propulsion method for all markets.
However, German automakers now largely agree that electric cars are a significant part fhe future—some part of which will emerge from Silicon Saxony.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Green Car Reports thanks our tipster, who prefers to remain an International Man of Mystery.]