22 October 2008
This year's FISITA 2008 World Automotive Congress has been the most successful in the organisation's 60 year history, with 1,800 delegates attending from 42 countries and 95 companies exhibiting.
With the environment close to the top of the political agenda world-wide, the theme of FISITA's 32nd congress: The Future of Automobiles and Mobility, was both timely and relevant.
FISITA 2008, which took place between 14-19 September 2008 at the ICM (International Congress Centre) in Munich, Germany, featured more than 400 technical presentations, including keynote speeches from Dr. Klaus Draeger (BMW Group), Dr. Thomas Weber (Daimler AG) and Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg (Volkswagen).
Dr. Draeger, BMW Board Member responsible for development, talked about the spiralling costs involved in developing the technology needed for new electric vehicles, saying that the sums involved may be beyond what individual automakers can afford.
Dr. Weber, Head of R&D at Daimler and Mercedes Benz echoed this view, calling on the industry to avoid costly duplication of research and development, saying that "vehicle programme managers need to agree on common technical standards for electric vehicle platforms and components."
Congress Chairman, Dr. Michael Paul, who is ZF Friedrichshafen's Chief Technical Officer said, "FISITA is ideally placed to provide the neutral platform for technical co-operation among the world's automotive engineers, within the vehicle and supply industries and also in the academic community."
The Congress was opened by German Transport Minister, Wolfgang Tiefensee.
Other highlights of the programme included a plenary session on Safety in which an international panel of experts discussed the challenges of introducing advanced solutions, such as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, given the wide disparity of infrastructure development and driver / pedestrian behaviour between developed and developing markets. Crash compatibility was also discussed as a priority area for future technical progress.
A plenary session on Energy & Environment saw experts from a global OEM, a leading powertrain consultancy, a major energy company and a top tire manufacturer, all confirming the view that there is no single "silver bullet" to solve the industry's energy-related problems. Downsizing, diesel technology, hybrids, full electric, hydrogen, fuel cells and biofuels were all still on the agenda and all likely to have a part to play in a more diversified energy scenario in future.
Gerhard Schmidt, Ford's VP for Research and Advanced Engineering told FISITA delegates that the trend towards partnerships between leading automakers would continue as they sought to defray the high costs of development in future powertrain technologies.
FISITA 2008 was also an opportunity for vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and engineering service providers to show their latest developments and capabilities.
Audi displayed its latest highly-efficient diesel TT; Mercedes-Benz showed its striking F700 concept, while BMW gave FISITA delegates a chance to see its new 7-Series close up, prior to it's public launch at the Paris auto show.
Dr. -Ing. Stefan Riederer, who was in charge of the aerodynamics of the new 7-Series, said: "The reaction to the car has been fantastic. There has been a very positive feeling about it; people have been impressed by the dynamic look of the car. We are very honoured to represent the car here at FISITA 2008."
India's Tata Motors were at the FISITA Congress for the first time and were looking to recruit new engineering talent. Sachin Narke, Divisional Manager (Human Resource) for Tata Motors' Engineering Research Centre said: "Through FISITA 2008 we have discovered a lot of interest from young engineers in working for Tata in India. We appreciate the opportunity to come to FISITA 2008 and see very real benefits to the networking opportunities that being part of this organisation will bring us."
The next FISITA World Automotive Congress takes place in Budapest, Hungary from 30 May to 4 June 2010. For more information please visit www.fisita2010.com