Moto Idea 2022, automotive sector and the flock of black swans
This year, it was autumn that surprised the roadies by coming suddenly and ostentatiously, with faster dusk, falling temperatures, and high weather variability. It derailed hopes that this year would still bring opportunities to bask in the sunshine. However, it did not cool the temperature of the discussions between speakers, panelists, participants, and exhibitors at Moto Idea 2022.
Above all, we were impressed by the scale of the event—the 12th edition of one of the top automotive conferences in Poland attracted to Lodz physically, to discuss together under one roof, nearly 250 participants with a keen interest in expert lectures and debates. Among them were car manufacturers, parts and components suppliers, the scientific community, and representatives of industry associations, but also people who are not directly related to the automotive sector, and yet, by creating innovative solutions with vehicle brands in mind, they also shape their future.
The conference found the automotive industry at a moment of solstice. A series of events that we have been experiencing globally in recent times, one after another, has had a profound impact on the sector.
The market has also been severely harmed by the conflict in Ukraine. It should be kept in mind that it has led to a production blockade not only in that nation but also in Russia, where factories for some automotive companies are located. In addition, 40% of the world’s palladium mining (used in semiconductors or catalytic converters) comes from Russia, along with a sizeable amount of nickel mining (critical to the creation of electric vehicles). Meanwhile, 10% of the wiring harness requirements of the European automotive sector are met by Ukraine alone.
In addition, Russian aggression has directly affected the world fuel market, pushing up gas prices dramatically. Other transportation-related companies are feeling the bounce off, which results in rising prices, which must be accompanied by increasing interest rates. Because of the rising cost of financing new cars due to these factors and consumers’ falling purchasing power, customer interest in new cars is declining. Not to mention the atmosphere of general uncertainty, which discourages making important purchases.
These are the difficulties the automobile market is currently facing, and analysts are unsure of how things will turn out. It is challenging to provide definitive answers, but one thing is certain: for some, the way business is done is about to undergo a revolution. Although this year has brought completely new and unexpected challenges, the old trends are still going strong.
A pandemic, a war and the political and economic movements caused by it, an acceleration in the energy transition during the fuel crisis, the highest inflation in years… The accumulation of situations, each of which gives rise to the thought: “Who would have thought a year ago that something like this could happen?” is reminiscent of the black swan phenomenon, so familiar to the financial community, which affects stock markets from time to time, surprising most foresighted and experienced investors.
The black swan idea contends that events occasionally take place despite being thought to be impossible beforehand.
These occurrences frequently have a profound effect on the world and have a detrimental impact on society and the economy. It is generally possible to rationally explain the causes and origins of the black swan across time. The phrase also somewhat alludes to the fallacy and futility of making forecasts based on old models and experiences from the past.
It was evident from the discussions held during Moto Idea that the automotive industry and its experts are aware that there are no definitive answers to the challenges posed by the sector since there are simply too many unknowns.
What we need to do as we head into the unknown is to be prepared for anything that can happen, no matter how bad or unexpected it is. From the conference backstage, from the perspective of a company working around AR and VR technologies, we shared our observations on the way businesses all over the world build resilience with technologies that help them secure their most valuable assets. Every day, we advise our clients and design solutions for them to build an unshakeable, bulletproof foundation of knowledge, competence, and non-negotiable skills. This lets them respond in an agile way to whatever the future throws at them.
What builds endurance in the automotive sector?
The first speaker, Pawel Borys, president of the Polish Development Fund, spoke about the energy crisis from the perspective of Poland and the entire European Union. He outlined the short-term measures Poland is protecting itself with, but also stressed the importance of joint action by European countries. According to the expert, although we are all feeling the cost of inflation and destabilization related to energy prices, rising wages, and difficulties with the availability of workers, there are a few tactics and solutions that will help us avoid recession.
Another speech suggested ideas for such solutions—Maciej Kawecki, Digital EU Ambassador, inspired interest in topics that to some may seem cosmic or straight out of science fiction. He talked about how tomorrow’s technology works today and allows you to reap concrete, tangible benefits. The speaker presented technological innovations that Poles are also behind, including a teenager who created an algorithm to prevent falling asleep at the wheel. The topic of algorithms was an important part of the lecture, and Maciej Kawecki mentioned that already every tenth minute of our lives is marked by their operation. So, it’s easy to predict that in the automotive industry, too, the importance of modern technology will increase, and at a very fast pace. However, the scientist pointed out that entrepreneurs’ approach to technology should be long-term.
Sometimes it is easy to be tempted to implement a technology that will bring us short-term benefits and financial gains. If it does not put people at the centre, it will do us more harm than good sooner or later, “said Maciej Kawecki.
A similar assumption is made by Ewa Łabno-Fałęcka, Ph.D., Director of Marketing Communications and External Relations at Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Poland, putting key industry topics into the context of the organization’s culture and appropriate mindsets. During one of the panel discussions, the expert, regarding the impending end of the exhaust era for the automotive industry, encouraged the rejection of viewing ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) issues in the category of a barrier to be overcome and thus something that would be better avoided. According to the expert, this is a holistic vision of governance, translating into principles that an organization should live by.
Andrzej Korpak, long-time chairman of the board of directors and CEO of Stellantis, demonstrated that with such an appropriate approach, the old adage that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger also holds true in the automotive industry. Using the example of Opel’s Gliwice plant, he stressed that properly introduced new solutions can make the industry stronger and more resilient, regardless of unfavourable conditions.
An automotive expert from the United States, Brad Templeton, spoke about how we will use cars and the vision of autonomous vehicles in everyday life in a highly engaging speech. There is also a peculiar punchline in how he talks about the future of motoring and a paradox, allowing us to find hope for the future even in the face of black swans.
Speaking about the work on the technology of the autonomous cars of the future, Brad Templeton said that it is impossible to determine when they will become part of our lives. Technology has advanced incredibly and can already do almost anything. It turns out that people are better than today’s robots at predicting what other people will do. That’s why one of the key areas of research today is getting better at predicting what others on the road, in particular humans, are going to do. This can range from knowing driving behavior to figuring out if a pedestrian standing on the corner is about to enter the crosswalk or is surfing the web.
Someday we’ll get to that, but not yet. Multi-year projects requiring breakthroughs are never predicted accurately, and we can’t do much about it.
We can, however, prepare for the road ahead by building stamina and endurance, strengthening our resilience with the help of innovative technologies. It’s innovation that distinguishes between a leader and a follower, as Steve Jobs said. His inspiring thoughts often come back to us, too.
If you want to know how the automotive sector deploys VR and AR solutions in their everyday operations go to this article on our blog.