Ford’s CEO in Mexico Gabriel Lopez Warns of Congestion

Gabriel Lopez President and CEO Ford MexicoIBM Seeks Part in Vehicle Automation
MEXICONOW Staff Report

One of the most eagerly awaited portions of the annual MexicoNOW’s Automotive Industry Summit is when speakers predict what the next decade or so holds for manufacturers, consumers and road users.
The Summit held in Leon, Guanajuato recently didn’t disappoint with both the Ford Motor Company and IBM giving the audience a peek into the near future of automobiles with predictions of fully automated vehicles and others that can diagnose mechanical trouble and fix themselves.
Gabriel Lopez, President and CEO of Ford Mexico, mesmerized the audience as he painted a picture of our Mega Cities, those cities with a population of over 10 million people, grinding to a halt as traffic congestion worsened as the second decade of the 21st Century progressed.
And he warned that not only would traffic congestion will worsen but also that such congestion would lead to a mass migration of companies from the Mega Cities as production slowed to such a degree that business was impossible to conduct.
Speaking to MexicoNow once he left the stage at the Summit, and after politely answering questions from a long line of interested spectators, Mr. Lopez said: “For the future, we have to understand the consumer’s needs and how to avoid congestion in our cities. Congestion in our mega cities is a problem that auto companies and governments will have to tackle together.”
“The issue is that the more congested the cities become, the lower the quality of life will be and on top of that, doing business in those cities will become less and less efficient and the productivity of the economy of the region will be lower. So, ultimately that can cause companies to leave those cities because they cannot thrive because of the strangling congestion.”
“So this is something that government and companies should be working together to fix, or at least to address some part of the problem.”
“For our part, Ford is doing many things, not least creating vehicles with the ability to drive themselves. Such automation is a requirement because at the end of the day as congestion grows, the only way to make traffic flow easier is to remove control of the vehicle from the driver and transfer the responsibility to the vehicle using information that the vehicle can download from the Cloud on, for instance, how the traffic is flowing, the different alternative routes the vehicle can use to get to the point where the driver want to get to.”
Kal Gyimesi, IBM Automotive Marketing“Those are elements the driver would never be able to collect for himself but the vehicle can use technology and the computation capacity that the vehicles can have built in.”
“The technology is available. The problem is not the technology itself but the cost of the technology. The technology is available but the cost of that technology is prohibitive. So we are working on making the technology available and affordable and making sure we can deliver the vision of automated vehicles.”
So, self-driving, fully automated vehicles will be a regular feature on our roads in the near future, according to Mr. Lopez. What could IBM predict?
That question was answered by Kal Gyimesi, of IBM Automotive Marketing, who said: “At IBM we are involved in so much information technology across the auto industry but one of the things we do to better know our clients and better guide our solutions is to develop independent thought leadership studies.”
“The latest study that we released, earlier this year, is called automotive 2025 in which we look at how the industry is going to change over the next decade. We interviewed about 175 executives and made a follow up study that will be released soon, a 16,000-person consumer study that looked at the top 16 automotive markets, Mexico being one of them.”
“Those two studies are intended to go together, one from the executive perspective and the other from the consumer perspective”, he said.
“The name of the study is ‘Industry Without Borders’ and when we think of the auto industry over the past 100 years, it has been one of the most rigid and tightly structured industries of all, strictly controlled by auto manufacturers, but now those borders are coming down, I think, and there are a lot of new entrants into the industry who are trying to figure out how to get automotive revenue.”
“Three big disruptors that we see are changing the industry. One is focused on the consumer. The consumer is becoming very intelligent and very sophisticated, far more so than they were a few years ago when emotion drove a lot of the buying they did.”
“Typically we will use those studies in two ways. One is to show our clients that we understand their business. Traditionally IBM is viewed as nothing more than a technology provider, a provider of computers and some software but we want to show our clients that we understand their business and that we are not just a technology provider.”
“Secondly, and internally, those studies help us see where we should be prioritizing and investing for the future.”
“When you think of something like the connected vehicle and the technology involved in such a vehicle, consumers use only a small percentage of that technology because it’s too complicated. So the next decade will bring about what we are calling the self-enabling vehicle which helps the driver and the vehicle’s occupants, it helps itself and understands when there is something wrong with it and can perhaps fix some of the problems it has and it can fit into the larger ecosystem, the traffic infrastructure.”
“Technology is going to play a larger and larger part in the automotive industry in the years ahead, of that there is no doubt.”
Mr. Gyimesi said the continuing rise of the automotive industry in Mexico had not gone unnoticed by IBM and added: “What we have realized is that once you get past the big automotive, mature markets, Mexico is next on the list in terms of growth and not just all the manufacturing that is happening in the country and the industry infrastructure but also as a consumer center.”
“We have realized that we do far too little business in Mexico and we want to build business relations south of the Border. It’s long overdue.”
Self-driving Ford Fusion cars