Leipzig’s automotive and supplies cluster includes a strong base of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), networking organisations and research institutes, as well as major manufacturers such as Porsche and BMW.
Porsche opened its Leipzig assembly plant for the production of its Cayenne model in 2002. According to Gerd Rupp, chair of the executive board at Porsche Leipzig, the firm initially opted to come to the city because of its openness as well as its excellent road, rail and air infrastructure.
“Our site has a direct connection to the Autobahn 14 from Dresden to Magdeburg. In the immediate neighbourhood is Leipzig-Halle Airport, which – as the international centre of DHL – is one of the main airfreight hubs in Europe. Furthermore, Leipzig has a high quality of living, which helps attract employees,” he says.
Porsche powers on
Since the first Porsches rolled off the city’s production lines 15 years ago, the firm has drastically expanded its output. “Two-thirds of all Porsche cars are produced in Leipzig. That’s about 170,000 Cayenne, Macan and Panamera models,” says Mr Rupp. “From a small production site employing 259 people in 2002, one of the most modern production facilities in the automotive industry has emerged. Our workforce has played a major role in this success story.”
When it comes to recruitment, Mr Rupp says the past six years have been challenging because the firm has grown its Porsche Leipzig team by 400%. “It was not easy, but due to the attractiveness of the brand and the sustainability of the jobs, we had thousands of good applicants,” he explains. “Saxony has an automotive history and still offers a good base for qualified workers. As a young company, we have a team with an average age of 36 with an urban catchment area of about 100 kilometres.”
One of the company’s latest initiatives is its €4m investment in a new 2000-square-metre training centre. “Since April 2017, the new training centre, located in Leipzig, provides ideal learning conditions such as modern workshops and seminar rooms, innovative teaching tools and a very good infrastructure for the continual shift of the automobile industry towards digitalisation. Every year we train 30 young people in the professions of mechatronic engineer, automotive mechatronic engineer, industrial mechanic and tool mechanic,” says Mr Rupp.
Creating a cluster
BMW has also backed Leipzig by first investing in a plant for the production of its 3 Series cars. Since then, it has expanded production and today the 1 Series five-door hatchback, the 2 Series Coupé and Cabriolet, the 2 Series Active Tourer and the BMW M2 as well as the BMW i3 and i8 all roll off the production lines at the factory.
A number of OEMs have set up base in the city and the surrounding region, encouraged by the presence of the two major car brands. According to the City of Leipzig Department of Economic Affairs and Employment, the local automotive and supplies sector has grown from 584 companies employing 8900 staff in 2005 to 766 firms employing 16,655 in 2016.
Leipzig’s automotive sector has provided plenty of opportunities for logistics firms, too. For example, DB Schenker runs a shared logistics centre in the city that repackages automotive parts for BMW for the automaker’s production supply in China and South Africa. A spokesman for DB Schenker says it won the contract for the new logistics facility in 2010 and has since expanded the facility.
“Today we handle 3000 cubic metres of shipping volume per day. We have 1100 employees, ship 12,600 containers per year and have 125,000 square metres of warehouse space,” he says.