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Three industry experts reflect on the transport solutions of tomorrow.
The automotive industry is currently going through a massive change that will rock our industry to its core. On the one hand, we have the biggest technology shift since the invention of the combustion engine, which is driven by electromobility and connected, autonomously driven cars. On the customer side, there is a clear trend towards paying for consumption rather than paying for goods, which will most likely disrupt the market for car ownership and goes hand in hand with the need for car producers to increasingly use digital channels to reach our customer base.
The digitalization of society and the exponential growth in processing power means that technology that was science fiction a few years ago will be producing real, tangible products in our near future. One example of the brutal speed is the fact that the current pace in the shift from combustion engines to electrification is faster than the shift from the horse to the combustion engine was in the early 20th century. A car that drives itself will not be sold like a car is today, it will probably change the very way we define mobility.
This development will inevitably push our present business models into new unchartered territory. As customer behaviours change, we need to find new ways of meeting an ever-changing demand and create a flexible steering of automotive companies that can cope with a much less predictable business environment than we have been used to over the past one hundred years.”
NAME: Erik Severinson
COMPANY: Volvo Car Group
TITLE: Vice President & Controller Research & Development
BACKGROUND: An experienced controller with a MSc in Business Administration from the Gothenburg School of Economics & Commercial Law, Erik is a member of the global Research and Development and Finance management teams at Volvo Cars.
The automotive industry is going through a major transition. The success of Tesla motors in recent years has made many major car companies reconsider electric propulsion as an alternative to internal combustion engines. But even within prevailing engine technologies, a battle is under way between diesel and petrol. More concerns are being raised about emissions from diesel engines, and regulation may come along and push consumers towards petrol cars.
On top of all this is the development of autonomous driving. This is still in an experimental phase, but the drivers are clear: higher utilisation of cars (through sharing), lower operating cost (no driver) and, most importantly, improved road safety. Although it may take a while until we see self-driving cars in the next lane during our daily commute, the direction of the trend is certain: children born today may never need a driving licence.
Nynas is well positioned to capture opportunities from these trends: from our oils used in the production of Lithium ion batteries in electric cars, to the oils that will be needed in transformers from the extended grid infrastructure needed to power these cars.”
NAME: Pieter Godderis
TITLE: Director Strategy and Transformation
BACKGROUND: Pieter has previously worked as an engineer at Atlas Copco and held management and consulting positions at Vattenfall, the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey. A Belgian national, he has an MSc in Electrical Engineering from Ghent University.
As transport becomes more integrated rail won’t compete with cars as it does now because that’s a lose/lose situation. People will jump off a bike and get into a driverless pod and onto a tram. Mobility will be based on a single, seamless, integrated platform with sensors taking payment – unless the system is free. You can see this already in Curitiba, Brazil.
Buses will become smaller and more agile. The system will accommodate the first and last mile better – that final distance to your office or home. We’ll see a powering down of the road network as land is released to power up new, more efficient transport networks such as light rail.
The mobility of the future will go hand in hand with the way we work. The morning and evening rush hour will be a thing of the past as people’s work schedules and school timetables become more flexible.
The catalyst for change will be public concern about air quality. Currently more than 90% of those living in European cities breathe air that the World Health Organisation says leads to health problems. That’s got to change.
NAME: Paul Chatterton
COMPANY: Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
TITLE: Professor of Urban Futures
BACKGROUND: Co-founder Cities and Social Justice Research Cluster. MA in Activism and Social Change. Director of the Sustainable Cities Group, University of Leeds.