An Industry in Transition: the Future of Mobility

25th Meeting of the Automotive Industry

25/11/2010

The 25th meeting of the Automotive Industry, held on IESE's campus this week under the title "Reinventing the Industry," covered a broad range of issues including emergence of the electric car, competitiveness of the European car sector and the potential of emerging markets.

Organized by IESE Prof. Pedro Nueno and opened by Dean Jordi Canals, the event included speakers from diverse countries and areas of the sector, including manufacturing and retail.

Higher Volatility on the Horizon

"The crisis is almost over in the automotive industry, but don't try to compare this crisis with previous ones. We have to adapt to higher volatility," said Prof. Dr. Bernd Gottschalk, former president of the German Automobile Manufacturers Association, during his presentation.

The real question, he said, is whether the recovery is sustainable and whether China will continue to grow. We shouldn't underestimate either China or the United States, he said. In regard to electric cars, "the customer faces a difficult choice between expensive zero-emission electric cars and less costly, low-emission cars with internal combustion engines."

Electric Cars Pick Up Pace

Dr. Egil Mollestad, chief technical officer of Oslo-based Think, which is developing electric cars, predicted that the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) will mirror the evolution of the personal computer. City cars will be the fastest growing EV sector. EVs can combine high performance with low maintenance costs as they have fewer moving parts, he said.

Paul Mulvaney, managing director of ESB cars in Ireland, says Ireland plans to have 10 percent of all cars electric by 2020. The key is to have sustainable electricity generation and a smart grid in order to produce sustainable transportation, he said. Ireland will have 3,500 charge points at 60km intervals by the end of next year.

The Impact of the Digital Revolution

A full 44 percent of consumers say they would be likely to buy a new car through the Internet if that capacity were available, said José María Garcia, Automotive Director, Google Spain, citing a Cap Gemini study. Today's car purchasers still mainly research online and purchase offline, he said, but many close the deal based on Internet research.

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