The future of mobility: Seize opportunities - overcome challenges

From left: Jörg Hochhausen (Managing Director of Handtmann Service), Franz Loogen (Managing Director of the e-mobil BW GmbH state agency), Dr. Michael Hagemann (Managing Director of Handtmann Metallgusswerk), Otto Sälzle (Chief Executive of CIC Ulm), Thomas Dörflinger (member of the state parliament), Prof. Dr. Klaus Dietmayer (Ulm University).

Foto: Corinna Rosa/Daniel Jenewein

The future of mobility: Seize opportunities – overcome challenges

Handtmann event attracts more than 200 visitors

The journey to the mobility of the future requires technologies which connect together different drive concepts, various means of transport and IT. The challenges of this revolution affect the automotive manufacturers as well as suppliers and private users. Last Monday, these challenges, as well as the opportunities, were therefore the focal topics of an event run jointly by the Ulm Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the e-mobil BW GmbH state agency, the association of medium-sized companies in the Biberach district, the member of the state parliament for the Biberach district Thomas Dörflinger, and Albert Handtmann Holding GmbH & Co. KG – an automotive company and host for the evening. More than 200 participants from the fields of business and politics accepted the invitation.

Handtmann is preparing itself for the age of electric mobility

To open the event, Franz Loogen, Managing Director of the e-mobil BW GmbH state agency, gave a presentation demonstrating his profound knowledge of the electrification and digitisation of the mobility industry in Baden-Württemberg. He summed up the situation as follows: “The future is electric, mobility is connected and IT-aided services are decisive for success at the interface with the customer. An important target group for future mobility concepts is already the “always on” generation of five to fifteen year olds.”

On the basis of examples taken from actual business situations, Dr. Michael Hagemann, Managing Director of Albert Handtmann Metallgusswerk GmbH & Co. KG, described the company’s strategic focus which is aimed at also ensuring it a place in the “Champions League final” in an electromobile future. “Vehicle and body components will still be needed but the development of alternative materials is important, as is the question of how the Internet is integrated into the car.” This is a key question as the car of the future will be a part of the connection between living, working and mobility in the users’ everyday life. It is already clear that the race for the battery cell as a key technology will be expensive and arduous, as the global competitors include companies such as Google, Nvidia and Tesla, who are already setting standards internationally.

Criticism for driving bans

“It’s high time,” said the member of the state parliament Thomas Dörflinger, “to roll up our sleeves and push ahead with alternatives such as hybrid, hydrogen, fuel cells and battery power alongside existing drives.” He called for greater objectivity in the diesel debate and more willingness on the part of the industry to support the diesel vehicle owners affected. “Electric mobility still has weak points and, as long as this is the case, diesel is still indispensable.” He rejected the “blue badge”, calling driving bans in urban areas the “last resort”. “Efficiency improvements have a much higher priority than bans.”

The issue of autonomous driving is also a part of future mobility. According to Prof. Klaus Dietmayer from the Institute for Measurement, Control and Microtechnology at Ulm University, the gradual development to level 5 – fully-autonomous driving – has now reached level 3-4. “The aim is to improve safety and ensure individual, comfortable mobility.” In this context, Dietmayer spoke about the development of highly-complex sensor technology that enables vehicles not only to recognise situations but also to understand them and derive appropriate actions from them, as well as a high degree of redundancy of all components. “Only in this way is it possible to achieve autonomous driving in urban traffic and under difficult general parameters. It will lead to the break-up of traditional structures between suppliers and manufacturers and to increasing, interdisciplinary cooperation on the part of a wide variety of players from the fields of science and business,” explained Dietmayer.

Mobility will be extremely important in the future as well

The subsequent panel debate involving the speakers showed that a future completely without cars is not an option. The opposite is true, as autonomous driving in particular will facilitate unlimited mobility. Chairing the event, CIC Chief Executive Otto Sälzle advocated a sense of proportion instead of knee-jerk reactions, as well as an improvement in efficiency by using drives which are suitable in each specific case. “Electric mobility is ideal for local public transport, for short private journeys and logistics within limited areas. For long distances, there are currently no alternatives to diesel and hybrids, and the basic requirement of improving efficiency and thus protecting the environment remains,” said Sälzle.

During the subsequent question and answer session, the topics which concerned the audience were the planned 5G network, the rapid expansion of the broadband networks, battery production bottlenecks, the required infrastructure and fast charging. The general opinion of the members of the panel is that we are open to various technologies but, at the end of the day, the market will make the decision. Mobility is and will remain an (economic) driving force.

Source: Sigrid Balke/IHK Ulm