Kleebinder: “Our automotive industry will re-invent itself as more radical”

Aug 9, 2021

The Sustainability Lounge presented by PwC will be the hub for discussions of the future of mobility at the IAA MOBILITY. The program will be curated by the internationally renowned mobility expert Hans-Peter Kleebinder.

In an exclusive interview, we asked him about his ideas on the topic of sustainability – and the role that the IAA MOBILITY should play in the mobility transformation.

Mobility expert Hans-Peter Kleebinder

Hans-Peter Kleebinder, in your opinion, what would the ideal mobility of the future be like?

Hans-Peter Kleebinder: Sustainability will be the most important aspect in the mobility of the future – as measured by our personal ecological mobility footprint. We will still want individual mobility – and we will cater to this desire in more and more diverse ways: on four wheels or two wheels, but also increasingly by rail, on local public transport and on foot. Looking forward, the solutions will be autonomous and electric, both in the air and under the ground. It will be standard to connect and dovetail all modes of transport. And everything will be available at the press of a button in a mobility app in my hand.

That sounds like a Utopian vision. What decisions will have to be taken in order to realize it?

Kleebinder: Mobility can become safer, more environmentally friendly and more relaxed if we make the right preparations now. The point is not to invent what is technically possible, but to make both innovations and progress socially acceptable, to bring people on board and radically make them the focus. Mobility should be enjoyable again, it should just work and at the same time it should make our lives easier.

What do you expect from the IAA MOBILITY on this path into the future?

Kleebinder: The new IAA MOBILITY will be the new showcase for our future mobility. As the inventors of auto mobility, we will once again determine the topics for the future of mobility on our planet. I expect to see hands-on ways of experiencing the future and mobility all over the city, so that the fascination of mobility can be experienced by a broader and especially a younger public. As an inclusive mobility platform, the IAA MOBILITY will not leave anyone out, will be open to the concerns and demands of the younger generation and will seek dialog between the generations and the most varied interest groups. More cooperation than counter-operation like we had in the past. No taboos, and looking beyond our own horizons.

And what is that supposed to achieve?

Kleebinder: The IAA MOBILITY should be the starting signal for a holistic mobility transformation – hand in hand with a comprehensive energy transformation. With a functional infrastructure and a new design for our cities – for us and for future generations. And our auto industry will reinvent and realign itself even more radically. In the process, the opportunities offered by the transformation have to be utilized and new jobs have to be created. Mobility is now, and will remain, the foundation of our prosperity and an important factor for our quality of life.

You are curating the Sustainability Lounge program in Hall B3 at the IAA MOBILITY. What kinds of impulses do you want it to send out?

Kleebinder: At the IAA MOBILITY we want to engage in dialog with thought leaders, firms and experts, and send out signals to the whole world about sustainable mobility that is viable for the future. Mobility transformation, the circular economy and climate goals – all the important discussions of our time focus on sustainability. That is the overarching theme, driver and common denominator for all players in mobility. In the Sustainability Lounge we will welcome world-renowned speakers, firms and organization like LinkedIn, Drees & Sommer, Xpeng, the network “Frauen verbinden”, the federally owned Autobahn GmbH and the French startup Tallano to discuss these topics.

What is your personal motivation for advancing the topic of sustainability?

Kleebinder: I have spent 24 years working in responsible positions in the automotive industry. Now my aim is to build bridges. Between big players and startups. Between public and private enterprises. Between the old and new players in mobility. Right now we must tackle the subject of sustainability together. The current waste of resources and inefficiency in mobility are just crazy when you think about the future of our planet and that of our children. I’m 56, I have three children, and now I want to assume responsibility and do my bit to make changes in this field.

What is the most important thing that has to change?

Kleebinder: We have to think mobility much more holistically. Of course it is basically a good thing that hydrogen and electricity are now replacing combustion engines in the auto industry, which have had such a long and successful history. But we have to ask ourselves: how are these raw materials produced? We must connect the energy sector with the mobility sector. And arrive at the circular economy. That is the only path that makes sense in view of the limited resources on our planet. In 1995 I wrote my doctoral thesis on sustainability. It is now high time that we seriously push this topic forward. And the IAA MOBILITY, the meeting point for all players, is just the right place to do that.