VDA President Wissmann says he's not afraid of Google (photo: Claus Dick)

HANOVER -- Germany is catching up in the area of connected cars and hopes in coming years to assume a leading position globally, the country's automobile association (VDA) president, Matthiass Wissmann said at the annual carIT Congress here.

But he warned that the industry's leadership role can only be assured if it is as committed to connectivity as it has been to developing conventional automotive technologies in the past 120 years.

"Whoever leads in the Champions League, cannot afford to sleep even for a second," Wissmann said, using a soccer analogy. "Otherwise, the title is gone."

The VDA president, who represents German automakers and suppliers, said increasing urbanization will pose new challenges for the industry and city authorities that can only be addressed through connectivity. "Are we going to be stuck in traffic or will we come to terms with these huge traffic issues," he said, summarizing the issue at hand.

Wissmann stressed that automakers, suppliers, the IT industry and a whole range of other stakeholders will have to work closely together to address tomorrow's transportation challenges. And he said carmakers can learn from their partners in some areas.

The VDA president said he wasn't afraid of new players such as Google, which has been experimenting with a Google car in recent years. But he noted that some of these new mobility players have big capital resources.

The annual carIT Congress is hosted by the automotiveIT Group. This year's event took place during the Hanover IAA, the world's largest commercial-vehicle fair.