Future & Mobility: Michael Köckritz in conversation with Andreas Herrmann & Jürgen Stackmann

173 years ago today, Bertha Benz was born. No less than a mobility pioneer, for her ride in the Benz motorcar marked the beginning of the future. But what does that future look like for the car today? In search of answers, we took a trip ourselves - to St.Gallen, to the Future Mobility Lab, in a Mercedes, of course. There we spoke with Prof. Dr. Andreas Herrmann and Jürgen Stackmann.
Text Michael Köckritz & Marko Knab
Photo Marko Knab · ramp.pictures

Temperatures that are no joy, continuous rain, approaching thunderstorms with gale-force winds. The weather forecast on this Thursday does not really invite us to take a car trip to Switzerland. But our AMG bravely wears sunshine yellow with powerdomes, thick tailpipes and an aerodynamics package whose grey rear wing harmonises well with the dreary grey of the clouds. An A 45 S, 421 hp from a newly developed two-litre turbo, the most powerful production four-cylinder in the world, 500 Nm maximum torque. Flap exhaust, launch control and 19-inch wheels as standard, plus clever all-wheel drive. Zero to one hundred would be possible in 3.9 seconds, but in the current weather moment on the German autobahn in the direction of Singen this would only be theoretic, and in Switzerland it would not exactly be advisable either.

Temperatures that are no joy, continuous rain, approaching thunderstorms with gale-force winds. The weather forecast on this Thursday does not really invite us to take a car trip to Switzerland.

About the drift mode? Let's not even think about it. The performance sports seats rather good currency. Everything in general has a super-sneaker feeling. It's ingenious how, despite all its sharpened sport qualities, the car is also very comfortable. Everything is up to date. Or even a little further. What does the future actually look like? What will we be looking for? What options, opportunities and facets will present themselves? What will we really want here? With that, we are already in the middle of our conversation. With Prof. Dr. Andreas Herrmann, who already dealt with the topic before his time as head of the Institute for Mobility at the University of St. Gallen. And with Jürgen Stackmann, an experienced businessman and industry expert who heads the Future Mobility Lab at the Swiss University.

It quickly becomes clear that the car will continue to exist and play a role in the future of mobility - "just not to the same extent as today", believes Andreas Herrmann. The current discourse is not about abolishing the car, but about developing holistic concepts. "We’re trying to work out these new facets and put forward positive business models that can spark enthusiasm for this approach," he specifies. Jürgen Stackmann adds: "I actually believe that many people are simply afraid and proceed from a perspective of loss. That’s where we have to start. We want to make it clear to people that we’re not an anti-car group." But rather a neutral institution that wants to work constructively with partners on the future.

"We’re trying to work out these new facets and put forward positive business models that can spark enthusiasm for this approach."

Prof. Dr. Andreas Herrmann

What can this look like? "We want to move toward a mobility in which there are no more deaths and which no longer causes emissions. There are quite a number of pieces of the puzzle that have to be moved here, and we want to move at least a couple of them," says Herrmann. The question quickly arises as to whether Germany can take on a pioneering role here. Stackmann is not sure:

"In terms of the willingness to innovate, the will and the fun in the game, which is absolutely necessary, I’d say off the cuff that Germany is the worst place at the moment."

Jürgen Stackmann

The discussion? Has picked up speed now at the latest, at least as fast as the A45 S could. But Jürgen Stackmann is convinced that there are still opportunities, including the aspect of freedom and luxury. So what could it look like, the mobility of the future? Find out in the next issue of "Unterwegs".

Read Michael Köckritz' exclusive interview with the mobility thought leaders in ramp #57 "Really?". Available from Friday 6 May.

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