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How will the automotive industry change in the future? Our interview with the author of the award-winning thesis

2023-01-31 13:49:32

Ádám Lászlófi won the first prize at the competition of the Hungarian Association of Logistics, Purchasing and Inventory Management. Interview.

Transport may, as early as in 2030, be completely different from what we know it to be today – Ádám Lászlófi stated in his thesis prepared at Corvinus, winning him the first prize at the competition of the Hungarian Association of Logistics, Purchasing and Inventory Management.

Ádám Lászlófi

The automotive industry has a dominant role in Hungary, and developing it is important in the country. Your thesis winning you a prize in the Lőrincz Péter thesis competition, which you have prepared at Corvinus, has the title Readiness or maturity – digitalization in the European automotive industry. Why have you decided to select this topic?

-I have always been interested in that subject. I received my bachelor’s degree at BME in transport engineering, but then I felt that designing was not so much for me, and economics attracted me. That’s why I completed my MSc studies in supply chain management at Corvinus. In addition, I previously worked at Bosch as an intern, and I currently work full-time there, in the logistics area, where our team is engaged in supplying Bosch factories in different locations.

– In your thesis, you explain that transportation and the automotive industry will change a lot along four major trends in the not-too-distant future.

– It is important to note that the four trends should be treated together. The four directions are car sharing, the advent of self-driving cars, digitalisation – I put the main emphasis on this direction in my thesis –, and the increased use of environmentally friendly (electric) cars. Of course, this latter issue is quite complicated, because the production of electric cars pollutes the environment – I mean mainly the production of batteries –, and the type of electricity source required for their operation is another very important aspect. To mention an example, in Poland, where they mainly use thermal power plants, emissions of cars are quite different than in a country where the energy mix includes a higher proportion of renewable energy. But it is also a challenge that self-driving cars – in the case of which a full self-driving capability is still a long way to go – will, for example, need to be interconnected with traffic management systems. I think that none of them can offer a real solution alone, but together they may represent a solution.

What is the most important precondition to such development? Is it a modernisation and development of the automotive industry that is much more ambitious than before, or the attitude of people? What I am referring to is that today having an expensive car is a matter of prestige, among others, and people’s attitude will be slow and difficult to change.

-Cars represent the only competitive solution for many people today, and there are of course some others for whom a car is a kind of status symbol. In my opinion, we cannot start tackling the problems of road transport unless we consider driving as a subsystem, or even as a kind of service (car sharing) and switch to multimodality. To that end, service levels must, of course, be improved from the aspect of public transport and cars alike. And of course, a radical change in human thinking is also necessary; and it is not impossible, if there is a solution.

Your thesis is essentially about measuring digitalisation and its level of development, primarily in Europe.

-With a focus on the automotive industry. It is important to know that companies are forced to carry out such developments, as data on the number of car sales show a decline of 10-15 percent since 2018 and a stagnation since then (with a small increase). In addition, China, which has played a leading role since 2010, dictates a fast pace of innovation, which generates competition between companies. The study I conducted focuses on the European automotive industry. And the variables measured – there are 13 of them in total, e.g., usage of robots and cloud-based systems, IoT (Internet of Things), usage of artificial intelligence – focus on the current state. From the study, it is clear that there is a kind of development according to role – countries focusing on manufacturing have a higher level of development observed in variables related to manufacturing, and, similarly, countries focusing on management also have it in the relevant variables.

What is the status of our nation in this competition?

-Nearly all European Union Member States and former socialist countries are in the same shoes as we are: markets are dominated by subsidiaries of companies from Western countries, using cheap labour from local suppliers connected to them. Much depends on when some production is financially worthwhile to automate. Digitalisation leads to lay-off everywhere, and this must be addressed. In these countries, however, not only production activities are carried out, more and more research and development centres are established. Among the EU countries examined in terms of the number of professionals employed in the automotive industry (with countries such as Germany and France included), Hungary is in a leading position, directly followed by the Czech Republic and Slovakia. I find this fact very important, as we need the highest possible number of highly trained professionals (IT specialists, engineers) for our country to develop. And the number of employed professionals is likely to increase: according to a study, the number of people employed in IT jobs in the automotive industry will increase by 6 percent by 2025 from 2020. The only question is how roles will change in future, but this is a complicated, multifactor process, with technical and social challenges involved.

Who have helped you write your thesis at Corvinus? In retrospect, what is your view: was it worth getting a second degree here?

-Absolutely! I have never regretted my decision to attend the programme here, I studied many subjects that motivated me to think, and I also liked that most of the teachers were supportive. They opened my eyes to many things. The group of students whom I graduated with was a very good team, we knew each other and helped each other. When writing my thesis, I received a lot of help from my two consultants, Dávid Losonci and Krisztina Demeter, and Zsolt Mátyusz provided valuable aspects for statistics.

Under the year 2022 Lőrincz Péter thesis competition of the Hungarian Association of Logistics, Purchasing and Inventory Management, in addition to Ádám Lászlófi, who finished in first place in the MSc category, other Corvinus students receiving a certificate of commendation included: Patricia Dákai for her thesis titled In the net of performance measurement systems: Consistent performance measurement, with a focus on the purchasing function, and Fanni Szűcs for her work titled An analysis of the co-opetition nature of supplier relationships in short supply chains. Congratulations to all award winners!

Katalin Török

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GEN.:2024.07.22. - 06:03:57