At our upcoming CEO lunch, a panel of experts and practitioners discusses the implications of today’s dramatic industry changes. The impact could be much less, or much more, than you think.
Excited media reports about electric vehicles, autonomous driving, Mars rockets, Uber, powerful travel and mapping software would have you believe that a radical new future is just around the corner.
Certainly, car manufacturers are responding to what some believe is an existential threat by investing heavily in new technologies – Toyota in Uber, BMW in a special range of electric cars, Mercedes in autonomous driving, etc.
The industry is facing ideas which could give us a very different transport system in the future. For example, the line between public and private transport is blurring, suggesting that the vehicle we sit in (car, train or bus) is less important than getting somewhere quickly, cheaply and safely. Clever software becomes more valuable than horsepower and leather seats. So conventional cars risk commoditization, especially given the simplicity and efficiency of electric engines.
Focussing on increasing yields per car (like Uber) could also vastly reduce the number of cars on the road. In addition, electric cars are quite different to combustion engines, impacting car suppliers like Akebono Brake. Indeed, brake pads are forecast to see reduced sales, because wear and tear is much less in electric engines. But wear on tyres is greater.
Still, ‘future-proofing’ a corporate strategy is complicated. Despite the hype, one rule-of-thumb used by forecasters is that the longer a technology has existed, the longer it will continue to exist. This implies many of the new technologies could disappear quickly, and the conventional car might last several decades yet.
Another way to forecast is to look at bad systems and speculate which might be ripe for replacement. For example, some new tools could reverse the ugly effects of ‘urban sprawl’. Shared electric cars, apps like MaaS Global which focus on combining different forms of transport, and autonomous cars could all ‘shrink’ the city centre, making it cleaner, greener and simultaneously denser but with more space per user. And in rural areas, cash-stretched local governments find yield-enhancing technologies especially attractive.
At this event we have selected speakers to provide a deep analysis of the challenges lying ahead. Peter Kronschnabl, the CEO of BMW Japan, will discuss how to market and sell a car brand famous for its driving experience and high performance in a market which might be moving away from both. Dr Albert Kirchmann, the Chairman of Daimler Trucks Asia, will look at the B2B sector within the car industry, in particular how manufacturing techniques are being affected by robotics, new design software, and changing customer requirements. Haruo Kawahara, a senior adviser to and former CEO and President of JVC KENWOOD, will talk about how this company is investing in new car technologies through venture capital. Michael Stoermer, CEO of Lufthansa Cargo, will help us understand the evolution in aviation technology – a technology-dependent sector, but often not mentioned in the debate. Finally, Martin Koelling of the top German daily Handelsblatt, and a car expert, will help us distinguish hype from reality.
Date: November 10th 2016
Time: 12:00 – 2:00pm
Place: Kabayama/Matsumoto Room, The International House of Japan.
5-11-16 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032 +81-3-3470-4611
Price: 10,000 yen/7,000 yen for DN members.