Strategy Dialog on the Automotive Industry in Baden-Wuerttemberg

On 17 September, the interim results conference of the “Strategy Dialog on the Automotive Industry in BW” (SDA BW) brought together representatives from politics, business, science, and environmental organizations.

The interim results conference of the “Strategy Dialog on the Automotive Industry in BW” (SDA BW) brought together representatives from politics, business, science, and environmental organizations at the Stuttgart Congress Center, both in reality and in virtual form, for an exchange on the future of mobility and structural transformation in the automotive industry. Informative live expert panels addressed the topics of the strategy dialog. Rector Prof. Dr. Wolfram Ressel and the Vice Rector for Knowledge and Technology Transfer, Prof. Dr. Peter Middendorf, represented the University of Stuttgart as experts in topic area VI “Research and Innovation Environment”.

The innovative working format of the SDA BW brings all players together, explained Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann and emphasized: “With this, we are exactly on the right track.” After all, the car of the future is to roll off the assembly line in Baden-Wuerttemberg, and jobs are to be created and secured. The seven-year “Strategy Dialog on the Automotive Industry in BW” was launched in 2017 by the state government in cooperation with business, science, employee associations, and civil society organizations.

At the expert panel meeting, which was moderated by Birgit Priemer, Editor-in-Chief of “Auto Motor und Sport”, Wolfram Ressel presented the “Mobility Living Lab” (MobiLab). Also, Peter Middendorf and Prof. Dr. Thomas Hirth, Vice President for Innovation and International Affairs at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), reported on the joint project Innovation Campus “Mobility of the Future” (ICM).

Middendorf explained that the aim is to create new technologies and business models in the strategy fields of “advanced manufacturing” and “emission-free mobility”. The focus of research is not only on innovation, but also on value creation. Apart from the fact that the research expertise of KIT and the University of Stuttgart is combined in the Innovation Campus “Mobility of the Future”, the project is characterized by its application-oriented basic research, the fast approach to application. “The challenge of transformation in the automotive industry is to see the car not as the problem, but as part of the solution,” Hirth said. He and Middendorf are motivated to make a difference in Baden-Wuerttemberg and turn new developments into an export success.

“The University of Stuttgart has ambitious goals,” Wolfram Ressel said: By 2035, climate-neutral mobility is to be introduced at the University of Stuttgart, and the CO2 footprint should be zero. The Rector described the MobiLab as a living laboratory, in which many different measures are tried out and tested by means of monitoring. Starting in 2022, cars are to be gradually banned from the campus with the introduction of parking space management. In future, people will have to park their car in one of the parking garages on the edge of the campus. E-scooters, e-shuttles, and RegioRadStuttgart bicycles will be available for covering the “last mile” on campus. In the process, an autonomous e-scooter that drives independently to users on the campus, and also autonomously drives to the charging station, will be particularly interesting. This autonomous e-scooter is currently being developed by scientists at the University of Stuttgart.

“We do not want to abolish the car,” Wolfram Ressel noted. The crucial thing is to change people’s behavior and reduce the excess of mobility to a climate-compatible level. At the university therefore, people are thinking about avoiding flights of less than 500 kilometers for example.

What works well on the campus in Vaihingen will then be used in the cities as well. In order not to lose the older generation with the new technologies, it is necessary to gain acceptance for them. Wolfram Ressel attested that the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and its government created a good bed for the plants of transformation: “People are open-minded and there’s a willingness to discuss these topics.”

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