WorlBI Interviews

Q1. Tell us something about yourself?

I am the chief executive of New AutoMotive, a non-profit organisation that I set up to research how governments could best support a rapid transition away from the internal combustion engine to zero emissions technologies. My background is in public policy, and I have worked on climate change for ten years in the UK.

Q2. Can you share some insights into your vision for the company and the automotive industry as a whole, especially in terms of sustainable energy and innovation?

The automotive transition means the end of the combustion engine and a shift towards zero emissions technologies, principally battery electric vehicles. That shift will require enormous investments, decisions and changes for governments, the car industry and consumers alike. Navigating that sort of change is a big challenge - as humans we tend to struggle to understand fundamental change, and have a presumption towards assuming that everything is staying the same. My vision for New AutoMotive is that we can help governments, businesses and consumers navigate the transition by being given the best data and latest information and advice, so that they can take the decisions that will enable us all to shift away from polluting technologies towards a future with cleaner, cheaper transportation.

Q3. How has your experience in policy development and sustainable energy influenced your approach as the Chief Executive of New Automotive?

Most of the time that I've been working on climate policy has been during a period of tremendous political instability in the United Kingdom with changes to prime ministers every few years following the vote to leave the European Union. What that has highlighted is the importance of strong institutions and long-term robust legal frameworks that act as the seatbelt light when the country encounters a patch of political turbulence. The UK's Climate Change Act 2008 and its Climate Change Committee, which provides advice and checks progress, have proven to be immeasurably important during this time. Despite a political backlash, the UK now has one of the most ambitious policies towards electric vehicles in Europe.

The other big lesson for me has been that in order for change to happen, several stars must align. It is all very well for governments to set targets for emissions reductions, but there needs to be strong policies to back that up. The most effective policies send a clear financial signal to industries and their investors about the future direction of travel, as well as creating a mechanism to tip the scales in favour of clean technology. For example, in the UK the Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate will now ensure that carmakers who sell the most petrol and diesel cars will pay to support others to sell more electric cars. When these schemes provide a clear market incentive like this, it can shift investment capital very quickly away from old polluting technologies that looked well established and like they would never be dislodged, and promote new technologies very quickly.

Q4. How does the automotive industry utilize big data in vehicle design and manufacturing processes?

The automotive industry absolutely runs on data, whether in the vehicle design, manufacturing process, as well as marketing. Automotive companies will increasingly need to track how quickly they are electrifying their sales relative to their competitors. There are swathes of empty territory in the market for electric car sales up for grabs, and automotive companies should be throwing everything at the task of trying to plant their flag and grab as much of a share of new electric car sales as possible.

Q5. How do you make sure people understand what New Automotive is all about? What's the easiest way you share your goals and values with a lot of people?

One of the easiest ways to track what we're all about is to follow us on social media, or sign up for our monthly data bulletin. We're launching a new Global EV Tracker (https://newautomotive.org/global-ev-tracker) and I'd encourage everyone to sign up to track the biggest trend in the automotive industry since the time of Henry Ford as well as to stay up to date with New AutoMotive and what we're working on.