Opinion

Amazed at IAA 2015

Walking around the halls of the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt, I was once again amazed.  What a show, with over 100 world premieres! Hats off to the organisers. I just hope we can give the fleet community the same sort of experience at the Fleet Europe Forum and Awards this coming November, in Rome, Italy.  No pressure then!

But back to the IAA. Next to the new car models, the speeches from inspiring leaders and opinion formers, I also get to hear about the trends that are changing the automotive business. And  once again green and mobility was everywhere at the IAA. It's not a new trend, but it's a big ticket item that commands the centre stage. And for good reason.

What we got to see was just how far the automotive business has come with technology and innovation. And the excellent efforts that it's making to promote green driving to business clients and the public. If you've been to the IAA you can't doubt the research and development, the euros and effort that the auto industry has put into electric vehicles, upping the efficiency of traditional power trains and pushing the public to embrace the green agenda over the past few years. 

The gains that the industry has made in a few short years is quite astonishing.  Europe's politicians have been banging a massive green drum and putting more and more pressure on car manufacturers to up their environmental game. I'd say the automakers have responded and can stand tall.

The products are on display - they're gleaming.  There in the showrooms and there moving onto the streets - albeit slowly. And that's the problem - the speed of change. Europe's governments want more and more progress, and they want it to be faster and faster.

Who doesn't want a better environment?  No-one. But getting a better environment demands collaboration. Europe's governments and lobby groups may be able to bang the drum louder and louder, and demand more and more from the automotive business, but the sound being made won't change what's happening on the ground.

A band needs more than lots of drummers. Put the right set of instruments together, play them in harmony, and there's some great sounds to be made. 

The automotive business is playing it's part by providing greener and greener products, it's now the role of legislators to put the drum down, pick up another instrument and help promote EV's and low carbon technology to the masses.   

Yes, there's been some incentives here and there for greener and electric vehicles.  And yes, there's been bits and pieces done to promote infrastructure to support new technology.  But if government wants to deliver transformational change than it has to create a transformational environment for it to happen. Let's be honest, it isn't doing really that. And now it is picking on clean diesel? Old dirty diesel is what we want to get off the streets, don't we?

So I'm talking about tax regimes that support sales of new technology in the automotive business, incentives that encourage interest and adoption from businesses and the motoring public, and joined up government initiatives that create the conditions for a motoring change. It's time for the politicians to stop playing around the edges and give automakers a helping hand they deserve. 

The product is in place. Politicians need to stand up and start playing their part in making change happen.

Authored by: Steven Schoefs