Event Report: Future Trends within the Automotive Industry (Europe and Asia)

The European Automotive Council of the European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong organized a seminar on 14th of December to discuss the general global trends in the automotive industry with a focus on Asia and Europe. The current specific trends of the China & Hong Kong Automotive industry development were explored and highlighted the new technologies coming up in the form of Digitalization, Connectivity, Sustainability Driving, and Infrastructure.dsc04325

Alexander Mastrovito (Scania)

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Mr. Mastrovito told the audience how sustainable transport is the only way forward, as the transportation of goods and people determine the quality of life. Whereas in the past, people lived and worked in the same city, people nowadays are involved in activities in multiple cities. This results in an immense demand for transportation. According to him, the question we have to ask ourselves is whether we are still contributing to increasing our quality of life?

Mr. Mastrovito also discussed the four megatrends the transportation currently faces

  • In Asia and Africa, the growth rate of the population is increasing, even though in North-America and Europe the growth rate of population is steady. In both places, however, the urbanization is increasing, which requires more public and private transportation.
  • The definition of urban transport system differs between Europe and Asia. Especially in Asia, dense megacities cause pressure for a more collaborative transport system that requires efforts from all parties involved.
  • In these megacities issues like pollution, Congestion, CO2 emissions all require technological solutions to tackle. Despite these issues being urgent, controlling the CO2 emissions is still the preliminary concern.
  • Thanks to new innovative companies such as Uber and Airbnb the phenomena os sharing economy has been born. This gives great pressure to companies, as consumer preferences are subject to profounding change. The consumers will require more than just a car, which is a challenge to the whole industry.

There are six disrupters in commercial vehicle industry.

  • Move towards alternative fuels is fueled by decreasing dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Challenges for biofuels are high infrastructure cost, as well as the mindset where institutions think biofuels are a temporary solution.
  • The major problems for electromobility battery storage capacity; infrastructure cost; power generation; reliability; and passenger capacity.
  • Hybridization can help to tackle the battery storage issue in electromobility.
  • Optimization via big data gives companies, infrastructure design better insight on customer behavior.
  • The most exciting feature of connectivity is the availability of autonomous vehicles. By 2020, it is expected that lateral control of vehicles will be achieved; 2023, driver-vehicle connection is no longer necessary; 2030 the first fully autonomous trucks will be introduced.

Ignatius Tong (Roland Berger)

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Mr. Tong told the audience that when it comes down to autonomous drive, 58% of customers in Germany and US are interested in autonomous driving; China the same number is 96% of customers. However, the question remains that what do the governments allow in terms of regulation? Regulation requires pedestrian to be completely protected. In practice in China, applying regulations requires at least 5 years of trial in Europe after which the regulations might be applied to the Chinese market. In addition, loss of jobs caused by autonomous driving in for example transportation services is not desired.

A Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) is a vehicle that are built to have a top speed of 40 km/h, and have a maximum loaded weight of 1,400 kg. In China, the NEB sales penetration is less than 1% of the total sales in China, and is driven by a pull from the government, and push factors from barrier prices also set by a governmental policy. In China, there is tax exemption for buying an NEV in the form of subsidized license plate for free.

When discussing about digitalization, Mr. Tong wanted to remind the audience that 97% of people use the Internet extensively before buying a car for finding a suitable vehicle. Thus, possibility to buy car online has tremendous impact on original equipment manufacturers.  At the moment, there are five major e-commerce business models are available and the regulation in Europe fails to follow the change, meaning that outdated regulations still apply in digitalization of car industry.

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