Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser has issued a stark warning of the importance for German companies of successfully managing the industry’s transition to electrified and automated vehicles. In remarks reported by Bloomberg, Kaeser appeared to warn that Germany’s automotive giants need to get the transition right, or risk mass unemployment and violent social unrest in Germany.

“We’ll still have cars in the streets, but they won’t be electric, they’ll be burning,” Kaeser reportedly told reporters, according to Bloomberg. “The success of Germany depends on this one industry.”

The report also noted that at Siemens, Kaeser is in the midst of cutting thousands of jobs in Germany and shutting a local factory at Goerlitz in response to a sharp downturn in demand for power plant turbines. But Kaeser, said the situation at Siemens “would look like a small story” compared to what the country’s car industry could go through if it doesn’t successfully navigate the technological transformation to electric and self-driving vehicles.

A recent study commissioned by German labour union IG Metall concluded that the transition to electric mobility (‘e-mobility’) is putting at risk thousands of jobs in the German automotive industry that depend on current technologies. In particular, the research warned that powertrain manufacturing will be worst hit and as many as 75,000 of the existing 210,000 positions working on engines and transmissions will be lost by 2030 – even as electrification adds 25,000 new jobs.