Q&A: Steve Nash, IMI CEO

Steve Nash

In this article: The IMI’s CEO takes a grilling from the industry’s young stars on the future of automotive

Where do you predict the motor industry will be in 20 years’ time?

Ben Eaton: Composite Paint Technician at Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1

We’re heading towards a zero-emission future; that’s already baked into vehicle manufacturers’ product plans. What’s more of an open question is whether it will be battery-electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell technology. The second part of that future is the concept of mobility as a service.

We’ve already moved away from buying cars to people buying the use of cars, and there are now organisations offering full subscription services.

Then there’s the question of shared mobility. The younger generation is less attached to the idea of owning vehicles; many are already using Uber and similar services to meet their needs, and there’s an expectation that this will happen to an even greater extent in the future.

Will Brexit affect the timescale for the introduction of new technologies such as electrification?

Matthew McKeown: Lecturer at South West College

The industry is global and is being driven by things bigger than Brexit. The next wave of EU emission standards means that the industry will soon have to reach an average of 90g of CO2 per kilometre, with further significant reductions required by 2025 and 2030. Brexit presents plenty of potential challenges, but the factors driving the adoption of new technologies such as electrification will be unaffected.

How do you think autonomous vehicles will affect the crash repair sector?

Daryl Head: Paint Technician at Nationwide Accident Repair

The move to fully autonomous vehicles will take much longer than people may realise. There are currently more than 30 million cars on UK roads, and if you consider the average lifespan of each car, it’ll be a gradual change rather than an instant switch. As firms develop more complex advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), the building blocks of autonomous functionality, the number of crashes will undoubtedly reduce.

However, the complexity of repairs will probably increase because of the technology integrated on vehicles. We’ll therefore see continued consolidation, but there will still be a healthy crash repair industry.

What will bodyshops look like in 20 years’ time, and is it possible for them to be fully waste-free?

Michael Massey: Application Engineer at 3M

When you compare the bodyshops of today to those of 30 years ago, the differences brought about by more demanding environmental regulations and more advanced materials have been huge. That trend is set to continue. The effects of the End-of-Life Vehicle Regulations from 2003 and the ongoing pressure to reduce the whole-life impact of vehicles means you can expect further change in terms of the materials used in manufacturing. That has a knock-on effect on repair processes. It’s fair to say that the self-sufficient and waste-free bodyshop has to be the aim, and it should be achievable within the next 20 years.

This is an edited extract from IMI's new MotorPro magazine, received free as part of IMI membership. Time to find out more about becoming a member of the most influential community in UK automotive…?