Automotive clusters as a fundamental tool in the transformation of the sector towards sustainable mobility

The representatives of CIAC, ACAN, CAAR and AVIA who participated in the round table on trends in the automotive sector, within the framework of the celebration of the II Smart Mobility Valencia, have provided a series of conclusions on these trends.

The automotive sector has accepted the challenge of leading the transformation towards sustainable and intelligent mobility as the only chance of survival. A mobility that yes or yes must be environmentally responsible. In order to reach this goal, which the European Union has well marked out, the sector works on four fundamental axes that, from entities such as automotive clusters, are launched and permeate their associates.

These axes are, without a doubt, the decarbonization of the vehicle, digitization, the connected vehicle and mobility as a service.

The decarbonization of the vehicle is an unquestionable fact and there are already several manufacturers that have confirmed that from 2025 all their vehicles will be electric.

The cities reward or penalize the entrance to their historic centers depending on the vehicle’s engine and next year 2023 the municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants will have to perimeter a central area that combustion vehicles will not be able to access. The sustainable and decarbonized vehicle has come to stay. And this opens the persistent doubt about the autonomy of the batteries, the charging time, the materials used and their supply.

The relationship with the environment due to the extraction of these materials is also a challenge, given that sometimes they are mines or deposits that do not respect not only the environment, but also the labor rights of the people who work in them.

To this scenario, since March 2022 we add the effects of the war, the result of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The rise in energy costs is a challenge for this process that seemed unstoppable.

The goodness of this situation, if something good can be found, is that there has been an acceleration in projects for the development of other synthetic fuels, or hydrogen. And this allows manufacturers and suppliers to open up new avenues of work aimed at new forms of combustion. In other words, sustainable mobility is not just electric.

The second axis of development is digitization and the need for effective public-private collaboration. In this sense, from the automotive clusters we have detected the need to attract the automotive sector to varied and, above all, flexible profiles, with the capacity to learn and adapt to rapidly evolving systems and processes. The digitization of the sector is not only the incorporation of software into vehicles that allows for safer and more controlled driving. Digitization is a key factor in the production of vehicles to achieve a more sustainable and profitable manufacturing. Where the data provided by an entire connected and digital system that allows decisions to be made in real time and with all the variables weighted. Digitization as a tool in decision-making, in the optimization of resources and in production, once again, sustainable.

From the automotive clusters, we recognize that the autonomous vehicle is the third trend that has been glimpsed for years. The 2020 pandemic slowed its introduction into our lives, but the recovery of a certain normality has resumed the projects that are aimed at this new way of driving. In July 2022, the European Union gave the green light to the circulation of level 3 autonomous vehicles in the entire territory of the 27.

This change, which is just the beginning to reach level 5 of total autonomy, allows automotive clusters to approach and, of course, we give them input, all companies in sectors related to this connectivity. To the fifth screen, which is the digitization of the vehicle, we now add all the communication systems between vehicles, between infrastructures and between agencies and public entities that control and monitor the movement of people and goods.

The autonomous vehicle will offer better routes to optimize journeys, it will reduce accidents caused by human negligence, and, yes, it will allow the competent authorities to have greater control of infractions.

In return, such violations are likely to decrease when vehicles are able to assist the driver in collision or accident situations.

Currently, the tests of connected vehicles are carried out in closed circuits, with industrial vehicles, in natural parks or in distant territories such as Australia for the transport of goods on rectilinear roads. The arrival in Europe of the autonomous vehicle will allow, once again, the inclusion in the sector of the new technological disciplines related to telecommunications.

And finally, the fourth trend that we have detected in the daily work of the clusters is the transformation towards mobility as a service.

The reduction in the manufacture of vehicles can be attributed to causes such as the 2008 crisis, such as the COVID crisis in 2020, the current situation of energy crisis and components… but the truth is that consumers have changed the use of the vehicle and opt by various modes of transport. Now it is about answering the question of how I move between point A and B. The transport does not matter.

Thus, this paradigm shift causes young people not to get their driving licence. According to a study by Uber, only 58% of the young people of generation Z -born after 1995- have obtained a license, compared to 81% of those born in the baby-boom -1946-1964-.

The causes are diverse. From economic to environmental, through the increase in the supply of alternative transport, mainly in cities.

In this way, the task of the automotive companies and the work that the clusters have to do is to put the customer and user at the center of the action.

Consumers will rent vehicles or share them. Therefore, they will demand that they be comfortable and comfortable, that they offer security, additional services -from Wi-Fi to real-time information on current events, traffic or your interests-, that they connect you with other secondary vehicles that you can use…

And what role do automotive clusters play in this new situation?

The role of these entities must be to place the long lights and provide a medium and long-term vision to their associates.

Being close to them on a day-to-day basis, but also isolating yourself from the rush of execution and income statements to offer your associates external information on trends, legislation, success stories, news… that allows businessmen to develop your plans and forecasts more accurately.

In this new scenario of mobility, the clusters play a fundamental role in helping companies to improve their processes, in provoking collaboration between companies -of the same cluster or of others to favor business and growth of employment and wealth-, reduce the barriers to cause such collaborations and above all, to be the axis of connection between public and private collaboration. The link that helps companies, especially SMEs.

It is an arduous task and more so in the current times of international political and economic uncertainty. However, it is the role that clusters play and that our associates expect of us.

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