Next level complexity

As the largest transport industry gathering in the world, the 2018 edition of Germany’s IAA Commercial Vehicle Show will provide the stage for what could become one of most important public debates of the century – how to respond to macroeconomic megatrends that transcend the confines of a single industry and affect our very understanding of life, work and travel.

With that in mind, Bernhard Mattes – President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), the organisation behind the iconic event – used the official pre-Show press conference to point out that while issues like digitisation, connectivity and automation continue to drive the conversation, they must be appreciated as part of an interconnected, reciprocal and highly political eco-system.

Technologically, he elaborated, the ongoing convergence of these megatrends would open up “completely new opportunities” to make transport more efficient and reduce emissions – with compound effects including a plus in road safety and new cross-links between different transport modes. “This is necessary because we need the interplay of all types of transport in order to cope with the increasing volumes of freight we see everywhere.”

Pointing to platooning as an example of applied digitisation, Mattes also called on industry to use the 2018 IAA Show as a platform to call on politics to grow the digital infrastructure needed to turn dreams into reality. “One essential prerequisite for digitisation is the existence of an appropriate digital infrastructure. Innovative mobility offers will only be possible if there is coverage with the latest mobile communication technology on federal roads [as well as on minor] roads,” he explained.

Just like in 2016, electric mobility will continue to be a hot topic in Hanover, he added – yet it may not be the only solution to make transport more sustainable: “There are many new applications [for electric vehicles] now, particularly for vans and urban buses, but also in local distribution using battery-electric vehicles up to 26 tonnes,” he said. “But we shouldn’t overlook [alternatives such as] natural gas, particularly in metropolitan areas. E-fuels synthesised using renewable electricity open up the prospect of completely CO2-neutral truck operation.”

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