Some of the globe’s foremost industry voices today offered insight into the future of cars and transportation as they discussed the pressing issues of increasing worldwide road congestion and populations at the 2nd Middle East Automotive Summit at Katara, Doha.
Held under the title ‘The New Age of Mobility’, the one-day Summit kicked off the highly-anticipated 2012 Qatar Motor Show,and offered a discourse for industry leaders to gauge the direction of the automotive industry as well as its impact on energy resources and environment.
Opening the Summit, Mr. Ahmed Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority, the organizer, said: “We aim for the Qatar Motor Show to be a source of inspiration for manufacturers of cars and to provide a rare and unique experience to automotive lovers. The 2nd Middle East Automotive Summit not only represents the latest developments in the field, but also reflects the direction of the industry in general.”
Other opening ceremony speakers – from Qatar Shell, Scuderia Ferrari, Volkswagen, Qatar Automotive Gateway (Qatar Ag) and Qatar Holding – reiterated their support to Qatar serving as a driving force in the global automotive industry as the country surges ahead in its vision to become a knowledge-based economy.
Mr. Ghanim Bin Saad Al-Saad, Chairman of Qatar Ag, said: “Qatar Ag is an attempt at diversification in Qatar, supporting the country in its drive to become a knowledge-based economy as well as create job opportunities for Qatar’s future generations. This initiative will help us put Qatar on the map prominently.”
In the subsequent panel session automotive industry representatives presented a variety of views in offering a holistic picture.
Mr. Harald Hamprecht, Editor-in-Chief of Automotive News Europe, and who also moderated the panel session began by bringing the often complex question of changing demographics and their effect on sustainability under the spotlight, and separated out a number of key emerging challenges.
“The global population is getting larger, older, more urban. By 2050, it is estimated to be 9.2 billion. Today, we have 700 million cars and by 2015 we are expected to have three billion vehicles,” said Hamprecht.
However, the lack of specialists and scarcity of raw materials will hamper the growth trends, he warned.
Another challenge, noted Mr. Luigi Piero Ippolito, Product Strategic Scenario & Innovation, Magneti Marelli, was the continuous neglect of the actual stakeholder in the equation: humans.
“It’s easy to imagine, even considering a big growth of the current technology level, that human behaviors will be part of the solution,” noted Ippolito.
Mr. V.G. Ramakrishnan, Senior Director of Automotive and Transportation for the region, Frost & Sullivan, then shared his vision of the future where commuting is multi-modal and rests on integration.
“The developing markets are likely to be at the forefront… and they are integrating public transportation; rail network, electric cycles, bicycles, two wheelers and more. For a consumer, convenience, fuel economy and environment will remain the ultimate choices,” said Ramakrishnan.
Back to cars and Mr. Roberto Vavassori, Vice President SGL/Brembo & director Business Development Brembo, highlighted how technology transfer from aviation and aerospace to open-road vehicles has been a beneficial one.
“The transfer of technology has enabled a better lifetime of brake discs, shortened the production process and improved overall performance,” said Vavassori, brakes from whose company can be found in 17 out of 20 best braking cars.
Mr. Harald Ludanek, Head of Vehicle Engineering and Prototyping in Technical Development Area, Volkswagen AG, and Mr. Ahmed M. Sorour, CEO, Qatar Ag, completed the discussion and emphasized how material development, storage of energy, lightweight construction, and cars that are networked together will be the ones leading the road in the future.