Contribution of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) sur l'innovation

Jean Todt, FIA President Road Transport and Innovation

by Jean TODT, FIA President

Why is the FIA interested in this issue

The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) is the world's leading mobility organisation. It represents over 100 million motorists via its 228 national clubs in 132 countries.
FIA's and its member motoring and touring clubs put their members' interests at the centre of political concerns. The goal is to advocate for a sustainable mobility, i.e. more comfortable and reliable, better integrated, cleaner, more efficient and safer yet affordable for all.

As the voice of motoring consumers the FIA believes that transport policies worldwide should be solid, reality-tested and long-term oriented in order to successfully tackle present and future challenges both in the developed and developing world.

FIA and its member motoring and touring clubs worldwide draw on a great depth of experience and knowledge gained as a result of dealing with mobility concerns of their members on a daily basis. This extensive know-how and expertise is used to tackle new mobility challenges as they arise. The traditional focus of the clubs in on road safety. A more recent field of activity covers traffic management, with road patrols helping to speed up the process of incident clearance, and traffic information services giving congestion warnings to help motorists find an alternative route in time.

FIA's motoring and touring clubs are involved in a wide range of technical and educational development programmes, product and infrastructure testing, field research, the operation of a technical testing laboratory as well as driver training centres. They are involved in technical development projects, participate in a variety of expert groups and promote innovative solutions by taking part in pilot projects, often involved in leading edge innovations to the benefit of the consumers. It is the close contact to road users and local, regional and national authorities that ensures practical, financially viable and user-oriented solutions.

In response to the challenges outlined by the International Transport Forum and the results of the survey carried out amongst industry, governmental and non-governmental organisations between July and September 2009 the FIA wishes to outline its views on ways how to further promote innovation in the field of transport.

Which framework conditions need to be taken into account?

Mobility for prosperity - Properly functioning transport systems increase the quality of life of people by making them mobile. Transport systems are an indispensable conditions for mobility and ultimately economic growth. Mobility contributes to social integration by reducing the geographical handicap of peripheral countries and regions. Citizens will benefit most from a transport system whose design and management corresponds to their needs, and that takes into account social, economic and environmental aspects. Transport by road plays a vital and central role in the economy and society of both developed and developing countries. Road transport is unmatched for independent mobility and convenience. Its benefit to society will continue to grow as the balance between social costs and benefits becomes increasingly positive.

Ageing societies - As a matter of fact, people live longer and healthier lives, bringing about a number of challenges and opportunities. These changes lead to a significant increase in the number of older citizens, who enjoyed the benefits of independent mobility all of their adult lives and who want to continue leading an active and socially integrated life. Innovation in transport should take their needs into account, not only to the benefit of the elderly, but to the benefit of all, to ensure that older citizens will be able to fully participate in tomorrow's society.

Integrated approach - Research and development in the field of transport needs to be prioritised. An integrated approach including infrastructure, vehicles and human behaviour will guarantee that efforts be made towards the most promising innovations.

Understanding transport to define innovation priorities - Sound facts and good analysis are vital tools to assess transport-related issues. Only if transport performance can be quantified, can it help emphasize and assess a problem, and define necessary action. For many years, the International Transport Forum has been carrying out valuable transport research and publishes regularly comprehensive factual information about transport and mobility. Further targeted research could address the development of (1) demand analysis, (2) sustainable strategies, traffic planning & management and land use, (3) transport supply and integrated and harmonised systems and services and (4) user aspects such as safety, security, comfort, accessibility. Based on the analysis of existing research results the International Transport Forum could develop sustainable mobility indicators and identify the research still to be carried out.

Which are the key areas for innovation in transport?

Intelligent transport systems - Sustainable mobility needs a good transport infrastructure. It ensures smooth traffic flow and gives a high level of safety. Studies underline the strong positive relationship between investment in transport infrastructure and GDP growth. While spatial constraints, particularly in cities, often do not allow necessary infrastructure extensions, innovations in the area of intelligent transport systems can bring significant relief in terms of traffic flows and transport efficiency. ICT-based transport applications can increase the transport efficiency and the use of limited infrastructure and - at the same time - reduce congestion and improve transport safety and security. A large number of ICT-based transport applications have successfully been developed and demonstrated in joint research projects throughout the world. Today, there is a growing need to deploy them on a large scale while making sure that user needs are taken into account, that field tests confirm proper application and that liability issues are addressed.

Innovation in mobility management - In many places public transport offers poor service. Public transport still needs to become a lot more efficient and better inter-modally integrated in order to offer a competitive transport service to the mobile consumer (e.g. real-time information, park-and-ride, bike-and-ride, car hire and car sharing). Based on their experience in the field of mobility management, the motoring and touring clubs have analysed the mobility patterns following the mobile consumers' needs as well the actual offer. Through specific projects they have developed qualitative criteria, tested transport offers and highlighted best practices. It is especially important in urban areas, where public transport plays an important role as an alternative to the private car. Car pooling, car sharing and (company) mobility management can also make daily mobility more efficient. Walking and cycling can be real alternatives to motorised transport for short distances if the environment allows an easy, safe and secure trip. Barrier-less road environment for the mobility impaired people, bicycle hire points, bike-and-ride systems and anti-theft bicycle sheds, cycling safe road infrastructure as well as bicycle access to public transport are some examples of good practices.

Innovations towards cleaner vehicles - Cars have become cleaner and more fuel efficient over these past years. While developed countries have taken the lead in establishing stringent norms for vehicle emissions, the developing countries still need to adopt those stringent emissions norms. However total CO2 emissions have been strongly growing with the increase in traffic over the last 10 years. Legislation limiting CO2 emissions, neutral taxation on environmentally friendly technologies as well as increased awareness amongst mobile consumers contribute to curbing those emissions and help to increase energy efficiency in transport. Particularly in an urban context, innovative traffic and mobility management measures can significantly help to alleviate congestion and reduce toxic emissions and the waste of energy. Medium term research and development of alternative propulsion systems and fuels will set new milestones for an environmentally friendly, sustainable transport. In addition, fuel efficient driving, for instance through advanced driver training and the promotion of eco-driving initiatives are of great benefit both in the developed and the developing world.

Innovation for safety - Today's challenge is to create a system that minimises errors and absorbs human mistakes in critical situations and crashes. To be most effective any road safety policy must address vehicles, drivers and roads within a safe system approach. Road safety is the responsibility consumers, vehicle manufacturers, road infrastructure owners and governments alike. Innovative approaches such as e-learning and simulation technologies should be encouraged as a means to train new drivers, and to maintain and update the knowledge and skills of more experienced drivers. Moreover further deployment of driver assistance systems such as ABS, ESC and seat belt reminder systems will also benefit the consumers.