Fur coats were once revered as the height of luxury, but no more. Can the auto industry head the same?
Not too long ago, I firmly believed that the last of the high-revving, atmospheric sports, super and luxury cars would be revered in history as the pinnacle of human achievement with an internal combustion engine, on the road no less.
By these means, I believed, misty-eyed awe would be studied. Those who were lucky enough to have it under control will be given complete silence and intense attention, as they were told to cut the limiter, without a rudder in their hands. Those who have had the opportunity to collect and cherish them will be able to live, owning a piece of automotive history that is sure to always be treasured.
Today, though, I'm not sure they haven't seen how some stains on consumption-obsessed society that we'd rather forget, but rather like the fur coats mentioned in the title, or perhaps even the stuffed animals that were once hung on the walls like valuables, or bear or tiger skins that have been removed, the head is included, and used as rugs. History is full of such examples of many treasured products that simply lost their appeal.
Yes, I know that there are people who need furs in order to sustain life, and some may need an internal combustion engine in the most remote parts of the world in the future, but today they sit in a largely respected minority. However, those who prize any of these animal trophies, once the quintessential manifestations of luxury, wealth and sophistication, mostly look with disdain on the modern world.
Can the machines we admire today go the same way? And what could this mean for the wider auto industry in the future?
After listening to the giants of the automotive industry speaking at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, I am inclined to believe that the fur of the analogy is true, and that anyone who keeps cars such as the Ferrari 458 Italia and for future oil rig blasts could well be viewed in the same way as a bloodthirsty a hunter who just needs to have a photo of himself next to the lion they just shot. I'm also wondering if this passes, it might just be the tip of the iceberg as far as problems for car enthusiasts, and the automotive industry in general.
Bentley's CEO Adrian Hallmark is perhaps the most erudite on the subject, and it is his philosophy that I have abridged and adapted to outline above. This also explains why last week Bentley harvesting the first honey from two beehives installed at the headquarters in May last year is of greater importance, which initially corresponds to the (raise) eye(eyebrow).
Make no mistake, sustainability is now a defining message coming from most luxury and premium brands, and hence it fills the minds of mass-market manufacturers too. The two bushes won't change the world, but they send a clear signal, looking back at the Bentley EXP 100 GT concept shown earlier this year and quickly gaining direction, from sustainable trim materials, all the way to the electric powertrain.
In Frankfurt show, there were similar themes. This is from Ola Kallenius, CEO of Mercedes: “If you believe in the concept of individual mobility, which after all we have built our lives around and are driving our economy forward with for 120 years, then you must understand that the future can only be considered through the lens of sustainable transport, from carbon-neutral manufacturing processes through zero-emission vehicles.”
There were echoes everywhere else. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, is open that his firm accounts for about 1% of the CO2 produced in the world annually. Too many, he thought, as wraps came with ID 3 and he set targets by which firms would be judged to quickly move towards carbon-neutral manufacturing targets. It is a snowball that is gaining momentum and threatening to leave something behind, whether they are slow or not up to financial trouble.
If you're still shaking your head in disbelief, mix in these considerations. Outside the Frankfurt Motor Show Hall, environmental protesters have gathered not for a picket about vehicle emissions, but for a campaign to cancel cars. generally, regardless of their power plants. Similar arguments were made yesterday by environmentalists in London (Sunday), in sections of the UK capital passed the first day without a car.
The argument was simple: personal transportation comes at too high a price in terms of environmental consumption. You can scoff, but the protests were not small.
And then there was last week when the forces of nature Greta Thunberg raised the issue of climate change hit the headlines again, her shrewd leadership stirring up millions of like-minded protesters around the world. It's easy to dismiss such movements - especially if you experienced a similar rise in green politics in the late eighties that dipped in recession - but this time it's certainly a different, scientifically proven climate crisis that's looming now for everyone but most consciously Trumpian minds. to acknowledge.
Meeting the challenges of developing an all-electric future is a common goal between lawmakers and the automotive industry. The clock is ticking and glide slopes are pretty much set. I have no doubt automakers will deliver as needed.
But as calling card words, Kallenius, Dissa et al testified, supplying electric cars is almost certainly not enough: suitability means much more than car tailpipe emissions, and the task of achieving this integrated solution is significantly more difficult and expensive than just that. . Make no mistake though, there are many companies that stand proud today that can be considered relics of a bygone era pretty quickly if they don't meet up.
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