Andreas Dörnfelder, Chief Editor Team Orange, Handelsblatt
Augustin Friedel, Intermodality Services, Volkswagen AG
Christoph Stadeler, Director Automotive, Facebook Europe
Franz Rother, Chief Editor, Edisonn

So do young people really not want to drive, let alone own, a car these days? Do digital natives really prefer to be driven, and has the last generation of new drivers has already been born?

Not at all, says Andreas Dörnfelder, editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt Orange. The poll results he presented challenged more than one supposedly clear trend. Respondents of all ages agreed equally with the statement: „I like to drive a car.“ As for how the mobility mix has changed over time, the Orange study ‘Mobility in Germany 2017’s findings were, surprisingly: ‘hardly at all’. Today, people still use a car for over half their journeys, just as they did 15 years ago.

All the same, countered VW mobility manager Augustin Friedel, the number of car-owning households, in large cities was falling fast. „But people still enjoy driving, which opens the door for alternative mobility services.“ The head of the VW subsidiary We Share thinks the government should make car ownership less attractive in cities. On the other hand, sharing needed to be considered in a differentiated way. In cities, Friedel emphasized, this model would definitely be an important part of the mobility portfolio.

Christoph Stadeler, head of Facebook’s automotive division, sees an unbroken passion and fascination for cars. „Cars still have a strong link to the concept of freedom.“ He describes his network as a platform for mobility decisions. Increasingly, people used social networks to plan visits to the cinema, pub or a concert with their friends. Facebook’s role was not to create its own transport offerings. „We don’t build cars, and we don’t build mobility services. That makes us a safe partner.“ We Share, for example, would soon be launching a car sharing service in Berlin with 2,000 electric vehicles.

When it comes to ride hailing, car sharing and other mobility-on-demand services, the Facebook automotive expert predicts a sea change. „At the moment, many manufacturers are working on mobility apps that users have to download, and which then compete with hundreds of other apps on their phone. We envisage something different. Instead of getting people to where the offer is, we want to bring the services to where people are already. And increasingly, that means messenger services. So we want to offer them services there whenever they’re relevant.“

Stadeler said like We Chat in China, tomorrow’s European messenger services would enable users to order and pay for products and services. What’s more, „some Facebook customers can already hold a customer dialogue with bots and artificial intelligence.“ Stadeler said digital assistants could already do many things better than human call centre operators. His advice for the auto industry: provide your own mobility services on messenger services. It’s the highway to the place where your target audience already plans their lives as a matter of course.

Automotive Summit 2018 – Executive Summary

In early December 2018, over 600 automotive experts from all over the world – including manufacturers and suppliers, tech and energy companies, politicians and associations – attended the auto industry summit in Wolfsburg, Germany. From 3 – 5 December, the industry’s big hitters discussed strategies, concepts and technologies for tomorrow’s automobiles and the future course of their industry.

We’ve compiled the highlights from the Handelsblatt Auto Summit 2018 in an interactive follow-up report.