MIXING know-how
Guest article: the new world of the automotive market and the
tyre industy. Interview with Michael F. Ableson from GM Europe.
In order for you to gain deeper insight into the everyday
life of the automotive and rubber industry, which we are
concerned with on a daily basis, Mixing Together has in-
terviewed Mr Michael F. Ableson, member of the Execut-
ive Board of OPEL and
vice-president engineering of GM
Europe, about the future development of the automotive
market as well as the far-reaching effects this future will
have on us as manufacturer of machines.
Mixing Together:
Mr Ableson, how do you see the auto-
motive market developing in the next five years?
Michael F. Ableson:
The registration of new vehicles in
the European Union in 2012 is at the lowest level since
1994. Particularly affected are the Southern European
markets. We do not see any indication of market improve-
ment in 2013 and assume that the situation in the
European market will tend to even worsen slightly, before
recovering slowly in subsequent years.
Mixing Together:
Which vehicles will develop stronger
and which regions will be affected?
Michael F. Ableson:
We see different parallel trends and
no well-defined developments. On one hand, these are
vehicles that comply with increasingly technological
equipment and ever-increasing demands. At the same
time, there will still be great demand for simpler equipped
cars ranging in the lower price segment. New drive tech-
nologies will catch up – also in regions whose automot-
ive market is just developing. If that is politically intended,
this can happen very fast.
Mixing Together:
How do you see the future develop-
ment of the Chinese and Indian automotive markets?
Michael F. Ableson:
The automotive industry of both
nations has enormous potential. It will take some more
time to tap the full potential. It is important to pay even
more attention to the customers’ wishes: the manufac-
turers must tailor the products even stronger to these
markets. The car buyers in these regions are demanding –
they know very well what they want.
Mixing Together:
Which general trends for cars do you
see with regard to diversification and convenience, safety
and energy efficiency?
Michael F. Ableson:
Lightweight construction will be an
integral part of the car concept. Part of the traffic safety
is also the networked car with access to Internet and
online navigation as well as the further development of
telematics and driver assistance services. We continue to
improve conventional engines where large potential
still exists. Alternative fuels as well as the electrification
of cars will still be the focus of attention.
Mixing Together:
Which meaning will these trends bear
for the rubber industry?
Michael F. Ableson:
If electric mobility should prevail, tyre
sizes will change, as well as the vehicles will have to be
changed conceptually. The demands on the tyres will
continue to rise, with rolling resistance coming to the fore.
Currently driving dynamics and safety are the focus, but
legislation (e. g. CO
limits) could shift the focus.
Mixing Together:
How do you see the development of
e-mobility, in particular in terms of rubber products?
Michael F. Ableson:
E-mobility stands and falls with
battery technology. If this challenge is better controlled,
there should be even more electric vehicles. But even
for these cars, you will still need tyres, of course, with
considerable change of requirements. The tyre will
evolve to a bespoke product and only companies invest-
ing in development will be able to stay competitive.
‘New drive technologies will catch
up – also in regions whose automotive
market is just developing.’
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