Road Traffic 2020headline

The car is currently the backbone of the transport system: accounting for 80 per cent of people movements and 70 per cent of freight traffic, cars and trucks are the contributors. The car is a system driver and dependent at the same time. Knowledge about developments in the mobility and transport system are therefore indispensable for Volkswagen for the future design of the (Auto)Mobility division. Will we live in the country or the city in future? What traffic volumes are we expecting in the future? Will our roads become (even) worse?

Intelligent Cars on Intelligent and Intact Roads

Challenges and Possible Solutions for Road Traffic in Germany in 2020


Together with the technical and scientific working group, acatech, under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Franz Pischinger, Volkswagen Mobility Research has predicted traffic development in Germany until 2020 and drawn up possible solutions. The experts of the acatech study agree that private traffic will rise by 20 per cent on trunk roads by 2020 and freight traffic by 34 per cent, with motorways being particularly affected. However, this growth varies greatly from region to region and particularly affects the prosperous growth regions. The proportion of car and truck traffic in traffic as a whole (“modal split”) will remain roughly constant. If the growth is compared with the planned infrastructure development (Federal Traffic Route Plan), it can be seen that the road infrastructure will not meet demand in many places. As a consequence, traffic is denser and more complex. In addition, road works or accidents disrupt traffic, increasing the risk of jams and accidents.

This model calculation demonstrates a need for action at all levels. The study illustrates the need in society to improve Germany’s roads, i.e. to make more investment in repairs, extending and building new roads. Experts estimate that the investment gap for federal trunk roads alone at two to three billion euros per year. And we can already see this gap on road bridges: 15 per cent of bridges in Germany have already been given a score of “critical” or “inadequate” for their condition, a rate that rose by 24 per cent within a year. But, in addition to “pure concrete”, the infrastructure needs more intelligence in the form of traffic information and traffic influencing, e.g. with matrix gantries on motorways.

In addition to the improvement of the infrastructure, traffic management approaches are an important component for the transport of tomorrow. For example, these include nationwide diagnosis and rapid dissemination of information on the traffic situation, deriving driving recommendation and optimised road works management. Because road works are hold-up sites and every traffic jam prevented reduces environmental pollution and the risk of accidents.

On this basis, intelligent vehicles can develop their potential. As part of its mobility research, Volkswagen has found out that an extended recording horizon for the driver based on the technical perception of assistance systems motivates traffic-optimized driving conduct. In this way, minor disruptions can often be prevented before they start. Shorter journey times, lower fuel consumption and driving with less stress are the positive consequences. Overall, the interaction of intelligent roads, innovative traffic management and highly developed vehicle technology on an intact infrastructure are the key to more efficiency in the road traffic of tomorrow.


2011: updated acatech study confirms mobility challenges

A few years after first publication, acatech has reviewed and updated its original study, factoring in data from new population forecasts, the economic and financial crisis, etc. The impact on the 2020 time horizon, though, is expected to be negligible; the increase in traffic is merely expected to be slightly smaller. The gap between growing and shrinking regions continues to widen and in many cases the traffic infrastructure cannot satisfy demand. In this respect, the statements made in the original study retain their validity. Expanding and consolidating the traffic infrastructure and increasing transport efficiency – e.g. by putting intelligent cars on intelligent roads – remains the central challenge for mobility 2020.


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Special note

This topic currently forms part of Volkswagen Group Research activities to study feasibility and does not constitute part of series equipment, nor are there currently any plans for series use.