The transport industry is confronting radical change
3 questions for Dr. Frederik Zohm, Chariman Research & Development, MAN Truck & Bus SE
Dr. Zohm, what effect has the Corona pandemic had on the Development division at MAN?
The Corona pandemic has affected the entire industry in Germany. We at MAN are still confronting huge challenges. At the beginning of the infection wave in Europe, we had to set up active, quick crisis management in a very short time. We did this very well. We examined the situation precisely and took suitable measures early on. Our employees’ health was always our foremost concern. At the same time, however, it was critical that we could continue our most important development projects without big delays. Thanks to a great team, we were able to do this even during the shutdown. Many employees’ everyday work changed drastically due to Covid-19. Even in Development, we have expanded home office capabilities dramatically, become more digital, and proven that even remotely, we can work together efficiently.
What challenges has the Covid-19 pandemic presented you with as a leader?
Frequently, the current crisis is compared to the financial crisis in 2008. However, the situations could not be more different. Corona affects everyone equally. In the beginning, many employees were afraid for their health and that of their families. Balancing professional and private obligations – that was and is a real effort for many people. The particular challenge for me as a leader is protecting my employees’ health and keeping them safe. This requires precisely timed, transparent communication. Flexible work models and shorter working hours are still shaping our everyday life. Something I didn’t have to worry about, however, was team spirit. All employees demonstrated what true cohesion looks like – this was a great accomplishment!
What do you believe will be the greatest challenges for the truck business in the future?
The transport industry is facing radical change. In particular, this change will be shaped by the megatrends such as alternative drives, digitalization, and automation. These require significant development efforts. Covid-19 added new challenges. For example, we have to assume that a second wave of Corona could come. The commercial truck market had declined significantly even before the pandemic, and now it is suffering from global, general uncertainty. Nevertheless, we are continuing to work hard on our future-oriented topics, such as electromobility and other CO 2-free types of drives! We regard automation and digitalization of highway transport as decisive factors for the future of the truck business. With the E/E architecture of our new truck generation, we are setting standards in this area. This will give us entirely new possibilities for being able to offer our customers intelligent and especially longterm solutions.