The last VocSoc career seminar of the half was given by Carl-Peter Forster and focussed on automotive engineering. Carl-Peter has held a succession of senior positions with BMW, GM (Europe), Tata, JLR and is currently on the board at Volvo, and Chairman of the London Taxi Company. He explained the drivers (no pun intended!) likely to affect change in the automotive industry in the next few decades, including electrification and autonomous vehicles and the likely ways that car ownership may evolve. The seminar was a glorious anthem for the value of engineering as a foundation for all sorts of careers.
He communicated perfectly the satisfaction of designing and manufacturing things and testing them in the marketplace with consumers who do not always behave rationally. He explained the industry and its challenges by using really helpful cost-benefit analyses about electric London taxis and the thinking about autonomous cars on motorways compared with HS2. He had some wonderful anecdotes to illustrate the vagaries of the industry, in particular the story of the lunch of the Tata Nano. We were introduced to the concept of energy density of batteries and alternative fuels such as hydrogen and the issues facing the roll-out of innovative propulsive technologies and electrification, in particular. All those present will have valued the opportunity to think in depth about the issues facing the transport sector going forward.