Rudolf Rother founded a mountain publishing house a hundred years ago. Why his Alpine Club guides are still legendary among hikers today and which regions are particularly in demand during the pandemic.
BMW stops the production of gasoline and diesel engines at the main plant in Munich and builds a new vehicle assembly geared towards electric cars on the area that will be vacated. It should go into operation in 2026 and cost 400 million euros, said production director Milan Nedeljković on Wednesday. The 1000 employees affected in engine construction are to be retrained and other jobs at BMW in Munich or other Bavarian locations are to be offered. “We are consistently implementing our electrification strategy. Each of our German plants will produce at least one fully electric vehicle by the end of 2022,” said Nedeljković.
Works council chief Manfred Schoch described the decision on Wednesday as a “model for a successful transformation in German industry”. The construction of a new assembly in the almost 100-year-old BMW main plant shows “that transformation, if you approach it strategically and courageously, can secure and expand industrial jobs even in the middle of a big city”.
The internal combustion engines with four, six, eight and twelve cylinders that were previously built in Munich are to be built in the future at the engine works in Steyr in Upper Austria and Hams Hall in England. “We continue to invest in the combustion engine,” said Nedeljkovic. Production will be relocated gradually by 2024 at the latest. Today, Steyr and Hams Hall are working to the limit and can continue to use their capacity even when e-mobility is ramped up, explained Nedeljković.
“We are continuously developing the Munich plant in the direction of electromobility and are creating efficient and competitive production structures for this,” said the Board of Management. A completely new vehicle assembly will be set up on the vacated site of the engine plant, which is designed for the new BMW platform, which is heavily geared towards e-drives. This platform will be launched in the planned BMW plant in Debrecen in Hungary in the mid-1920s and then rolled out to all other plants.
BMW has rebuilt its plants in such a way that they can produce combustion, hybrid and electric cars on the same line and thus react flexibly to customer requirements. By the end of 2021, he will have reduced fixed costs by half a billion euros a year, said the head of production. From this point on, the fully electric BMW i4 in Munich and the BMW iX in Dingolfing are to be launched, the fully electric versions of the 7 and 5 series are in the starting blocks in Dingolfing. In 2022, the Regensburg plant will start production of the X1 as a combustion engine, which will also be offered with a fully electric drive. In Leipzig, the Mini Countryman will finally follow in 2023 as a combustion engine and as an e-car.
Despite Brexit, the BMW board sees the mini plant in Oxford safe. “We’ll be there for the next ten years,” said Nedeljković. In China, the e-mini factory will be completed with partner Great Wall in 2022, and local production of the X5 is being planned. The new Asia-Pacific Customs Union will certainly result in changes in production.
In the pandemic, many hoteliers have the same problem as some Munich tenants: They can no longer afford their accommodation. With what creative ideas hotels are trying to get through the crisis.
A year ago, the mood in the industry was more like that of 1896 in Klondike, Canada. Anyone who had a lot of play money for real estate was not investing in rental apartments in Munich, but in hotels. What is a monthly rent of 18 euros per square meter when you can get 150 euros per night for a small room? Year after year the number of hotel beds in the city grew by up to 6,000, and around 50 new hotels were added each year. The result was a development that was repeatedly complained about by the hotel and restaurant association in the city. There is a bubble growing that has to burst at some point.
Two travel dreams have just burst again. Thailand and Namibia. “We had to cancel both,” reports an employee of “Travel Overland” in Wörthstrasse. Because entry is currently not possible. Palm trees, desert, palaces, T-shirt temperatures – everything perdü. Instead rain and cold.
In the Munich travel agencies they are used to grief at the moment, it has been canceled and canceled for months. And only booked very cautiously, as it says in “Travel Overland”. Because many wanderlust-driven people no longer know what is actually still possible – and what will apply tomorrow or in two weeks, when the Bavarian autumn vacation begins.
Outside of Europe there is very little going on; the German passport, which is actually praised as a worldwide door opener, has lost a lot of its value. The USA, Canada and even Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are out of reach for Munich residents. France? In the crisis zone Paris and in other large cities there is a night curfew, and the entire neighboring country is now a risk area. Like Tyrol and Vorarlberg, the immediately adjacent holiday destinations in Austria.
The mood in the run-up to the autumn holidays – travel preparations are made in “normal” years – is therefore suitable for the Munich sky: gray, depressed, a little resigned. Especially in view of the early closing times in the restaurants, the restrictions on celebrations and the already uncomfortable autumnal temperatures, the distance beckons – in which, of course, Corona rules would also dampen the hoped-for carelessness, if you could even get there. There is actually a very clear recommendation from politicians: if possible, avoid traveling this fall. So that the virus is not carried across Europe again. And a new lockdown can be avoided.
However, plans are still being made. At “Travel Overland” in Haidhausen, the Munich residents’ interest in Greece and Italy was recently noticed. However, the situation changes daily, from this Saturday on, the area around Naples (Campania) and Genoa (Liguria) are considered risk areas in Italy, and masking is required on the roads throughout the country. The Federal Foreign Office also sees Trentino, Lombardy, Veneto and Lazio on the wrong path. In Greece, which is comparatively little affected, reports the travel agency employee, the season was partially extended. Some hotels are open longer than usual. There has been no travel warning there so far. However, online registration is mandatory when entering the country.
The ADAC, which evaluated the route inquiries from Munich drivers over the past four weeks, placed Italy in second place: 28 percent of a total of 1010 inquiries from Munich and the surrounding area had “Bella Italia” as their destination. Germany is ahead with 32.6 percent. It follows, with only 14.7 percent, Austria. It is of course unclear whether the motorists will actually go on vacation. The corona situation is very confusing and requires flexible travel planning. Or maybe the waiver, Munich is actually also a holiday destination.
Italy and Greece are currently making the running at the airport – with 150 and a good 80 take-offs respectively during the autumn holidays. Turkey, which has been talked about because of its embellished corona statistics, ranks third – although the country, with the exception of three Aegean provinces and the area around Antalya, is still considered a risk area (and not only because of Corona). Like Spain, which is still served from Munich despite very high corona numbers. In any case, many destinations that are flown to in the autumn holidays are not at all usable for Munich residents due to travel restrictions. Around 180 of the 3,400 take-offs and landings during the vacation are long-haul connections: USA, Canada, but also Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Dubai and Seoul.
Entry into some countries is not even possible, others require tests or quarantine – the Federal Foreign Office advises against it. “MUC” is therefore still running on the back burner, despite intensive efforts to adhere to hygiene requirements in terminals and aircraft. Currently there are only around 20,000 passengers on 360 take-offs or landings per day. For the once so proud hub with a good 1100 flights a day, that’s a pretty sad result.
Even in Germany, which is the travel destination of choice for many Munich residents even in the comparatively carefree summer, the situation is confusing. Since the Federal Chancellor and the 16 Prime Ministers have agreed not to tackle the subject of the ban on accommodation again until after the Bavarian autumn break, the patchwork will remain. Berlin is possible for Munich residents and also Thuringia, Saxony, Bremen, Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia. In other federal states, however, travelers from an official risk area such as Munich are not even allowed into the hotels. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, cars with an M license plate are officially not even allowed to cross the national borders.
Bad prospects for a carefree tour through Germany. However, the bans on accommodation are on the decline – on Friday the state government announced the temporary end of this restriction in Bavaria. And in Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony, the administrative court has overturned the ban. Of course, the question always arises as to whether you want to travel to an area with very high corona numbers, even if it were allowed.
This is called eviscerated. Empty showcases, empty shelves, the silver clothes racks have been pushed aside. “One more day” is written on the wide entrance portal of Karstadt am Nordbad, and one can assume that every employee here who holds his position as brave as it is final is in a strange mood. A customer asks whether it is possible to get parts of the furniture. Another says that she was there when the West Schwabing department store opened. It was 1968, at that time the concrete fortress still looked rather futuristic between the old buildings around the north bath, which was decorated with a portico.
It’s now closing time – forever. The Karstadt am Nordbad closes after more than half a century. With him, the Karstadt closes in the Olympia shopping center – although there is a department store of the same group in the immediate vicinity, similar to the previously rescued Kaufhof on Stachus. The Karstadt am Nordbad is far and wide the only one of its kind. Officially, this Saturday is the last day of sale. In the three-story bunker, however, there is very little that could attract customers. A garish discount campaign – the advertising banners are still hanging on the facade – has long since emptied shelves, clothes racks and freezers.
The upper floor is already locked, there is nothing left to stumble upon. Employees run around pushing furniture back and forth. In the now void it becomes clear how huge the surfaces actually are. Everything is still brightly lit and the escalators are in operation. Soon, when it is cleared out, all of this will be empty and gloomy, as a demolished house. A strange idea.
The sausage counter in the basement is still occupied, there is no more fish. There are occasional groceries on the shelves. Vinegar, wine, spices and sweets. A couple of huge Advent wreaths are waiting for the last bargain buyers. The freezers have already been cleared.
Outside on Schleissheimer Strasse, on a pane of glass, there is a protest sticker: “The Benkos expropriate”, it says. In reference to the Austrian investor to whom Karstadt and Kaufhof have belonged for some time. On the glass entrance doors there is a note of solidarity from a “sad old customer”, as the clerk himself put it. The closure is a severe blow for Schwabing.
For decades, the department store, located directly on Nordbad, was a central point of contact when there was something to be found quickly that you would otherwise have to drive to the city center for. Where you could buy a Christmas tree at the last minute on Christmas Eve. Where, when the shop opening hours were still more strictly regulated, there was still pork schnitzel when the other supermarkets were already closed.
Of course, the closure of the once so important contact point is also a symbol of the change in the consumer world. The department stores suffer like hardly anyone else from the trend to shop digitally – in the better times of the Karstadt am Nordbad it was rather frowned upon to constantly besiege your own couch and do everything from home. Although there was already a mail order business back then, but it had an even more stuffy reputation than the department stores. All of that has changed.
The Schwabinger have started a rescue attempt. A residents’ initiative collected signatures for the preservation of the district meeting point, and Ruth Waldmann (SPD) member of the state parliament initiated an online petition. And also reminded of the fate of the many Karstadt employees who are now threatened with unemployment. It was all of no use. In the farewell letter from the workforce, which is taped outside on the front door, it is now a reminder where a good place is for recruiting: here.
Numerous parents will have to look for alternative care for their children on Monday: There will be a full-day warning strike in the public service after the second round of negotiations in the wage dispute ended last weekend without an offer. In addition to some clinics, parts of the city administration, the Munich municipal utilities and the city libraries, this also affects municipal childcare facilities – and probably more massively than the Verdi and GEW unions calling for the strike originally planned. When asked on Friday, Verdi was not able to say exactly how many facilities will be closed on Monday, but they are assuming a “two-digit, possibly even three-digit number”.
The fact that daycare centers are also included in the strike has met with harsh criticism from Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter (SPD). He has been a union member for more than 40 years and has always supported it when childcare workers take to the streets for better pay or better working conditions. But at the moment, in the middle of one of the biggest health crises in the world and after months of emergency care and a difficult situation for the parents, I consider a warning strike to be simply irresponsible.
Daniel Gromotka from the Joint Parents’ Council of the municipal day-care centers and day-care centers has a similar opinion: “Strike is a basic right, but in the current situation I have no understanding for it. The unions demand solidarity, but behave themselves without solidarity. The employees were not Affected by short-time working, they are also not threatened with unemployment: If an employer was fair during the crisis, it was the city. “
On Tuesday, the GEBHT, together with the joint parents’ council of municipal kindergartens, urgently asked both parties to an agreement to come to an agreement quickly and, in particular, without strikes in the daycare centers. This year is a big burden for families. Many parents would have had to take short-time work or would have to fear losing their jobs. In the second quarter, real wages in Germany fell by 4.7 percent compared to the previous year. These parents, Gromotka said on Tuesday, a strike for wage increases of almost five percent, as the unions are demanding, cannot be conveyed.
With a view to the families, Verdi had originally planned to only call one person per facility to go on a warning strike. But this is now also becoming a protest against the authorities, by whom the employees feel abandoned: Until Wednesday, the seven-day incidence in the city of Munich was over 50; During this time, according to the Bavarian general hygiene plan, further protective measures were necessary for the employees – but these did not exist, said Merle Pisarz from Verdi on Friday.
That the displeasure among the employees “is assuming this extent only became clear yesterday and today”. City school councilor Beatrix Zurek defends herself against this accusation: “There is no automatic mechanism to declare stage 3 – phase red – with an incidence value of 50. The Free State has explicitly given the municipalities this leeway.” The incidence value has since fallen to 42.47.
Verdi did not want to comment on the criticism from OB Reiter on Friday and instead referred to the press release on the strike call. It says that the corona pandemic has shown how important the public service is for the functioning of the community. “They cannot pay the expensive rents in the Munich metropolitan area just from applause.” The Department for Education and Sport has no knowledge of which daycare centers are closed on Monday or are only partially open. This advises parents to find out more directly from the daycare management. The city operates a total of 48 crèches, 164 kindergartens, 116 day-care centers, 123 houses for children, 42 day care centers and two curative educational day-care centers with around 36,500 places.
The Schwabing, Bogenhausen, Harlaching, Neuperlach and Thalkirchner Strasse clinics will also be affected by the warning strike. Emergency care is guaranteed, but planned interventions have not been made, according to Verdi. The next round of negotiations in the collective bargaining dispute is scheduled for October 22nd and 23rd. It is quite possible that there will be another strike by then. But, says Heinrich Birner from Verdi, “we will handle the day-care centers very carefully”.
Photography is prohibited in the basement – at least when it comes to the cars. Here, in the new North Project House of the BMW Research and Innovation Center (FIZ), the focus is on the future of the car. Two men sit with laptops on their laps in front of a beefy car, which is painted in the typical camouflage pattern of an Erlkönig, and check data. From the bare corridor you can literally feel the concentrated atmosphere behind the glass door. But the workshop in which the prototypes are assembled remains hidden behind a black gate. You don’t want to reveal too many secrets.
So far, BMW has invested around one billion euros in the “FIZ Future” project. They are proud of the new building at the car manufacturer’s Munich headquarters, which opened with a ceremony on Friday and in which a completely new concept was implemented. While the developers are doing their work on the upper floors, the implementation is on the lower levels. Drive systems are checked. In a special room that looks like the inside of a spaceship, the employees test the susceptibility of control units to electromagnetic radiation from outside. This would be fatal in an autonomous car, for example, so it has to be ruled out.
Autonomous driving, e-drives, efficient gasoline engines and other innovations are important topics at FIZ, where the digitization of cars was tackled as early as the 1990s. Now, after three years of construction, the first section of the “FIZ Future” has officially opened. On a gross floor area of around 150,000 square meters, specialists are now developing the hardware and software for future generations of BMW vehicles. 100 test stands and 200 laboratories are available in the workshop building, test and safety equipment as well as prototype construction form the heart of the concept, which integrates all essential functions and is intended to significantly improve processes.
The building follows the principle of “Smart Building Technology” and digital user control – this increases energy efficiency, they say, and all processes can be consistently digitized. The building thinks for itself, for example, it controls the lighting automatically. If an employee wants to change this at his workplace, this can be done via smartphone. That should save 37 percent energy.
There is space for 4800 employees in the new FIZ North. They should all benefit from short distances and open structures in the building by accelerating and simplifying the exchange between them. This is what it looks like under the large glass roof. The furnishings are functional; between the five levels of the building, employees can sit down on large steps or in “meeting cubes” – small, separate areas set in the room. The “creative exchange” is emphasized several times this Friday, is important to BMW. At the moment, of course, this is happening at a distance. There are special markings on the steps, and there is a bottle of disinfectant on each desk. Masks are required in the corridors, and employees in yellow safety vests patrol the factory to warn their colleagues if they come too close.
There isn’t much going on in the building on the opening Friday, but it should soon be filled with life. The building is perfectly tailored to the needs of the employees, explained BMW HR Director Ilka Horstmeier: “Brainware and hardware come together here,” she said. Development director Frank Weber said that the whole building was designed for teamwork. Works council chief Manfred Schoch also sees the investment as securing jobs for the future. “The knowledge and creativity of our employees are our raw material,” said Schoch.
And the automobile should definitely have a future thanks to the development and use of new technologies, of which BMW is convinced, how could it be otherwise. CEO Oliver Zipse said they were setting a “very clear signal of departure”.
Munich’s Mayor Dieter Reiter (SPD) said the investment was the right sign in a crisis. It is noteworthy that thousands of new jobs are being created during these times. “Munich needs BMW, and BMW is part of Munich.” There is no one in Munich who seriously criticizes the fact that industrial production takes place in the city. Reiter also addressed the housing problem, which is exacerbated by new jobs. He would like industry, not just BMW, to have ideas on where 15,000, 20,000 new employees should live in this city. On the subject of mobility, Reiter said that the automobile still has a future, even if he could imagine a city center without cars. But there is not only the city center, but also a periphery, said Reiter.
But there, too, it regularly builds up. The north of Munich in particular is suffering from traffic. A traffic concept is still pending, but according to Reiter, the planning department should present one in the first quarter of next year at the latest. What will not be included is a tunnel that connects Schleißheimer Strasse to the motorway. The green-red city hall coalition has stopped these plans.
The third runway at Munich Airport has been postponed for a long time. It will probably be on hold until 2028 after Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) announced on Wednesday that it would no longer be built during his term in office. Many now believe and hope that the piste is now finally buried. And the airport company FMG responded briefly to the news. “The decision about the third runway at Munich Airport is of course up to our shareholders,” she said. And that is understandable given the pandemic-related traffic figures.
At the same time, the railway has always been considered indispensable for further growth. And FMG continuously pursued the latter, on the one hand by expanding its business areas to include aspects that are not directly related to aviation and gradually expanding the airport generously. Today it boasts of being the only five-star airport in Europe that attracts financially potent frequent flyers with luxurious lounges.
Immediately after his move from Riem to Erdinger Moos, Munich Airport was a comparatively manageable and completely different place than it is today. In 1992 there was only Terminal 1, the distances were short, there were only a few shops and catering areas. And it is hard to imagine today that you saw people smoking everywhere. Today the airport not only looks better, it also smells better.
The airport has gradually developed further, and the infrastructure has grown along with the number of passengers. In the first year twelve million passengers were handled, 192,000 flight movements were counted. Since then, the airport has grown annually, except for a few years. In 2002, after the attacks of September 11, 2001, fewer people flew from Munich, and after 2007 and 2008, when most take-offs and landings took place to this day, the 2009 economic crisis spoiled the balance. Since then, however, things have steadily improved, and the airport company’s demands for a third runway have become more intense.
Terminal 2 has been in operation since 2003, the associated satellite since 2016. And when you talked to the then airport manager Michael Kerkloh about the topic of growth, he never failed to verbally and emphatically explain the need for a third runway . The main argument has always been international competition and the importance of the airport as an international hub, which should not be jeopardized. Kerkloh always relied on numbers; his last year 2019 saw the highest number of passengers so far – 48 million – and the most flight movements since 2008, namely 417,000. His successor Jost Lammers represents the same line.
Lufthansa, which operates Terminal 2 together with FMG, also contributed to the growth. For various reasons, it has strengthened the Munich location, the second largest hub in the state after Frankfurt, because there were more favorable conditions and more room for development. Most recently, the expansion of Terminal 2 was targeted in order to be able to handle ten million more passengers in the future.
But now even Lufthansa has indicated that business may never return to the old level, it is reducing the fleet and the workforce, and FMG also wants to cut a lot of jobs. Like many, she wants to make that dependent on further developments in aviation. There is no forecast at the airport as to when business could have recovered, nor is there any information on whether the third runway might not have become obsolete for good.
In the summer of 2019, the airport still counted more than 1200 flight movements daily. In April, when the corona pandemic paralyzed public life, there were an average of 68, in May it was 74, now there are again around 430 take-offs and landings per day. If this continues until the end of the year, the number will be below the 1992 level.
A new, centrally located office complex in a listed building that sets standards for sustainability and sustainable mobility: The 1,500 additional Google employees in Munich who will be accommodated in the previous parcel delivery office on Arnulfstrasse (also known as “Arnulfpost” or “Postpalast”), should come across an attractive working environment – and the public will also be able to get at least a little insight. On Tuesday, the company announced in a video press conference about the plans for its “development center of the future”. It is “one of our most exciting projects in Europe and even worldwide,” said London-based Google property manager Rhian Windridge.
In fact, the group is doubling its current presence in Munich and is thus part of a trend among US technology companies that are massively expanding their location in Munich: Apple, which previously had a development center with 300 employees in Munich, has an office building that is still under construction on the Karlstrasse, which will provide space for around 1,500 employees. Amazon, which already has 2,500 people in Munich and also wants to continue growing, is renting a new building in Parkstadt Schwabing. It is a development that causes discomfort in parts of Munich’s population because it means that thousands more high to top earners will come to the city and look for living space.
This is probably one of the reasons why Wieland Holfelder, head of Google’s Munich office, emphasizes that “we want to make a positive contribution to our neighborhood”. The group offers free IT training for individuals and companies, cooperates with educational institutions, participates in social projects and will expand these activities in the future. And Holfelder announced that the rotunda, the heart of the property accessible from Wredestrasse, will be partially open to the public so that “the population can experience the building and maybe have a coffee there”.
However, all of this will not be enough to dispel the reservations about moving in and the housing shortage. Mayor Dieter Reiter (SPD) regularly appeals to expanding companies to create company apartments for their own employees – he means local traditional companies such as BMW and the tech companies from the USA. Would Google take part? Munich boss Holfelder says that this is “not a Google problem, but affects all companies”. But he adds: People are “very, very happy to open up to a dialogue. Perhaps it would make sense for us all to sit down at a round table and look for solutions for the whole city”. Company apartments are just one of many ideas. Google has a lot of experience from other cities.
The news that Google had taken over “Arnulfpost” came as a surprise almost a year ago, as an Israeli investor had wanted to build a luxury hotel and offices there. These plans were well advanced and the first construction work was underway. But then the investor decided to sell. How much the property cost and how much the renovations are now cost, Google does not provide any information. However, the total should be a higher three-digit million amount. What is left of the hotel project is the architectural office: Allmann Sattler Wappner from Munich is now allowed to plan the Google campus with its 50,000 square meters of floor space.
The location at Hackerbrücke is particularly attractive for Google because the area is only a few hundred meters away from the existing location, which will be retained. In the summer, Google submitted a building application for the new project, which, according to the planning department, is still being examined. Fundamental problems are not to be expected, however, since the use of the office at the location is permitted under planning law, as the department reports. Google plans to go into operation at the end of 2023.
And what are all the Google employees doing in Munich? Site manager Holfelder speaks of “our engine room in Germany”. The focus is on data protection. The security settings for one billion users worldwide would be programmed in Munich. Other teams work in the areas of networked automobility and cloud services. There is also a YouTube department that “works with the local media industry,” says Holfelder. How the people work in the complex is still open.
Because the corona pandemic burst in the middle of planning. “Before we were focused on having the employees in the office, that has changed completely,” says Holfelder. Now prepare yourself for the fact that people might only come twice a week. That is why one will possibly create significantly more space for “creative areas where people come together in a team” – and no longer necessarily one workplace for everyone.
Before that happens, there are still a few structural problems to be solved. Especially when it comes to converting the historical building fabric in such a way that it complies with the Group’s climate strategy. In terms of energy, they want to “not only do what is required,” says Holfelder, but much more. The group has been climate-neutral worldwide since 2007 and has been 100 percent renewable energies since 2017. By 2030, Google has set itself the goal of ensuring that all large locations and data centers manage without CO₂ emissions. The “Arnulfpost” must make its contribution to this.
The second aspect that the group emphasizes is sustainable mobility. You always look for central locations so that employees can easily get to the office by local transport or bike, says Holfelder. There are no company cars and no fixed parking spaces in the entire group, with the exception of people with restricted mobility. The group spokesman throws in from the Germany headquarters in Hamburg that two parking spaces are reserved for 650 employees. For the project in Munich, 300 parking spaces are actually required according to the parking lot statute. Google has negotiated this down to a good 200. How they will be used is still open, but it should be done “for the benefit of the city”, says Munich boss Holfelder, “for example for shared mobility”.