The future of transport – From traffic to mobility

FILTREX™ 2019 will showcase a range of expert insight from industry professionals active in filtration. To get a taste of it, Gil Stevens, Sustainability Director at EDANA spoke with keynote Dr. Bodo Schwieger, General Manager at team red Deutschland, to understand the future of mobility.

Gil Stevens

Gil Stevens: You will open FILTREX™ with a keynote exploring the ‘Future of Mobility’. What do you see as the most exciting opportunities in the field? And the biggest challenges?

Dr Bodo Schwieger General Manager of team red Deutschland (Germany), a company specialized on international projects on sustainable transportation solutions

Bodo Schwieger: “The exciting opportunity is in the combination of technologies, such as Smartphone and Electric Mobility, which gives us access to shared devices of all kinds. The major challenge is to minimize emissions down to zero in a very short timeframe.”

What technical innovation or concept in this area excites you the most?

“Autonomous mobility excites me most, as this will change the mobility experience forever. However, it is danger and solution at the same time and it is in our hands to develop this concept into a solutions that helps us to preserve the planet instead of even increasing traffic and pollution to higher levels.”

We have often seen tech outpace regulatory (Uber, electric bike and scooter schemes) with mixed results. Are innovators and tech companies doing enough to evaluate impact prior to launch? Or is the model to ‘launch, test and adapt’?

“I would say, it is the usual case, technology goes first and regulation comes after, since regulation can only assume linear technical developments. Major or even disruptive developments change rules and landscapes and can only be handled by regulation after their “arrival”. Innovators are driven by windows of opportunities and investors, less by regulations. Most companies have international focus and launch in markets where regulation fits their technology. Then they try to grow into other markets while lobbying their interests in order to change legislation to their favour.”

Electric solutions are often presented as the greener option. But what are the metrics? Bike and scooter schemes don’t seem that ecological when you consider the impact of production and the number of ‘abandoned’ batteries.

“We need to differentiate between “Local Effect” and “Global Effect”. Electric drive is locally free of emissions but might have negative global impact if e.g. electricity is based on 100% coal energy. Production and waste – actually the whole life cycle – is a relevant topic. And the battery recycling needs to be improved. There is still much to do, and solutions need to be developed. These problems however do not question the direction or the strategy – it is the best option we have today.”

How long until a middle income family of four in the EU has a viable alternative to car ownership? Can you speak to the different rates of change on the tech, infrastructure and regulatory fronts?

“Well…the car industry always announces new and cheaper electric cars and did not fulfill these promises yet. My hope (yes, hope) is, that governments will change taxing structures which will support low- and zero emissions cars. A CO2-tax is probably the most simple way to go, if other taxes such as the car or insurance taxes are lowered at the same time. A better tax system would not change the load of taxes on a middle-income but motivate to buy electric cars.”

Which cities are leading the way in improving urban mobility?

“Many cities are “on the move”, while implementing different measures based on different strategies. Helsinki is strong in tech-based solutions, Oslo is banning cars from the city center, Copenhagen is rolling out a complete bicycle network, London has a city toll, Madrid is building so-called “super-blocks” of areas with no car traffic. However, my impression is that no German city is in the TOP10 cities of innovative mobility.”

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