Patrick McGee:

Silicon Valley is fast disrupting the future of cars, forcing established groups to invest in technology to make their vehicles electric, connected to the internet, and equipped with self-driving sensors and software.

But in the coming years, Germany hopes to unleash its own weapon: Silicon Saxony. The country’s easternmost region is shaping up to play a lead role in the electrification of cars.

Porsche makes all of its hybrid cars in the state while Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler have focused their efforts there to answer Tesla, the US and Silicon Valley start-up that offers the most advanced and broadest range of electric cars.

“Saxony 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.”

He rattles off a series of research institutes and an array of specialist companies that give Saxony, he says, a unique competitive advantage in making battery cells, producing lightweight cars and equipping vehicles with semiconductors that can handle floods of data essential for autonomous driving technology.