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Digital Automotive Talk 2021

New Horizons. Smart. Green. In Transition.

Focus on future readiness

The automotive industry's path to the mobility of the future is complex, multidimensional and in full progress. There are no reliable predictions, no simple answers. It is a true exploration rather than a one-dimensional transformation project!­

In various ways, the COVID-19 crisis is accelerating the structural change that the industry has already been facing for years. Now more than ever, automotive companies are expected to actively drive change instead of lagging behind, to boldly explore new horizons instead of timidly persisting in familiar terrain.

It’s time for visionary foresight, commitment to change, courageous decisions and renewed pioneering spirit. Is the automotive industry equipped for this exploration and transformation?

Location Analysis

Where does the industry stand?­

­Under the moderation of Markus Lanz, we want to discuss new perspectives for a successful future with high-profile guests and representatives of the automotive industry in the livestream of our “Digital Automotive Talk” on July 15, 2021.

Our moderator

Markus Lanz

Markus Lanz

Markus Lanz is one of the most well-known faces of German television. He has hosted his eponymous talk show on ZDF with great success since 2009.
Born in 1969 in Bruneck in the Italian region of South Tyrol, he was educated in Bozen. After graduating from high school in 1988, he trained as a radio operator with the Italian army and served in the mountain infantry. At the same time, he worked for a radio station in Bruneck, where he gained his first experience in broadcasting.

At the age of 21 he moved to Germany and studied communications at the Bavarian Academy for Advertising and Marketing in Munich. After an internship at Radio Hamburg, Markus Lanz became a news editor and presenter at RTL Nord and, from 2003 to 2008, he was editor-in-chief of the RTL magazine show Explosiv.

In 2008 he moved to ZDF and has since hosted the talk show Markus Lanz, which is broadcast three times a week. He also presented the successful cooking programme Lanz kocht until 2012, and he was the presenter of the entertainment show Wetten, dass..? from 2012 to 2014. In addition to his talk show, Markus Lanz also presents various other entertainment shows and has made very successful documentaries.

Our guests

Anja Kohl

Anja Kohl
TV economic and financial journalist

“The next ten years will determine the future of the automotive industry. The race is completely open. Many companies will disappear, not just suppliers. Success can no longer be taken for granted. Flexibility, capital and the ability to transform possible mistakes into new strengths will decide who will take the lead in the end.”

Anja Kohl is the female head of the ARD stock exchange bulletin Börse vor Acht, reporting on current stock market events for a broad audience every weekday. She is also the stock exchange correspondent for Tagesthemen on ARD, providing ever-informative explanations and assessments in her inimitable style from the ARD studio in the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Thanks to her high profile, Anja Kohl is also a popular guest on information programmes and talk shows such as Hart aber fair, Anne Will, Günther Jauch, Maischberger or the NDR Talkshow. In 2006, Anja Kohl was voted one of the top 101 journalists of the year (by medium – magazin für Journalisten). In 2008, she was awarded the German Medium-Sized Companies Journalist Prize from the publishing group markt intern. Anja Kohl is a volunteer member of the board of the children’s aid organisation World Vision, and is an ambassador for the Spessart Nature Park.

Ola Källenius

Ola Källenius
Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG

“Decarbonisation and digitalisation are the most important challenges facing the automotive industry in the next few years. With the highest level of engineering and captivating products, we at Daimler are driving the transformation process and creating a successful future for our company.”

Ola Källenius has been a member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG since 1 January 2015, and Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG since the annual general meeting of Daimler AG on 22 May 2019. He is also Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Daimler Truck AG. Ola Källenius was born on 11 June 1969 in Västervik, Sweden. After graduating from Danderyd Grammar School (Sweden), he did his military service in the Swedish army from 1988 to 1989. From 1989 to 1993 he studied at the Stockholm School of Economics (Master of Finance and Accounting) and at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland) as part of the CEMS programme (Master of International Management). In 1993, he joined the international junior research group at what was then Daimler-Benz AG.

Bin Li

William Li
Founder, Chairman and CEO of Nio Inc.

„We want to redefine what premium service means for a car company. This means manufacturing products and providing services based on what our customers need and want from their vehicle. It means providing an incredible ownership experience that gives you that same excitement you had when you purchased your first car. When this experience exceeds expectations, electric vehicles will simply become the natural choice for everyone, leading to a more sustainable tomorrow. With that, our vision of a blue sky will come true.“

Mr William Li is the founder of Nio Inc. and has served as chairman of the board since the inception and chief executive officer since January 2018. In 2000, Mr Li co-founded Beijing Bitauto E-Commerce Co., Ltd. and served as its director and president until 2006. From 2010 to 2020, Mr Li served as chairman of the board of directors at Bitauto Holdings Limited, a former NYSE-listed automobile service company and a leading automobile service provider in China. In 2002, Mr Li co-founded Beijing Creative & Interactive Digital Technology Co., Ltd. and has served as its chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer since its inception. In addition, Mr Li served as vice-chairman of China Automobile Dealers Association, or CADA, and was recognized by CADA in 2008 as one of the top 10 most influential and distinguished people in China’s automobile dealer industry in the past 20 years. Mr Li received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Peking University where he minored in Law.

Thomas Ulbrich

Thomas Ulbrich
Member of the Volkswagen Brand Management Board, responsible for technical development

“For Volkswagen, software is the key to the future. As we’ve already been doing with our ID. family, we intend to democratise innovative software solutions – such as autonomous driving – before the end of the decade and make them available to a broad consumer base. This is important, as we’ve shown how Volkswagen vehicles can transform the market. Any automotive manufacturer that can’t offer the same level of connectivity as you find in consumer electronics has already lost the race.”

Thomas Ulbrich was born in 1966 and studied automotive engineering at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. After graduating, he went straight into a career at Volkswagen in 1992, initially working in plant logistics at Wolfsburg. He was promoted to his first management role in 1995 and moved abroad the following year, becoming Head of Logistics at FAW-Volkswagen in Changchun (China). Over the following two decades, Thomas Ulbrich held a variety of managerial positions at various locations in both China and Germany, culminating in his promotion to the VW Brand Management Board in April 2014 – initially as the board member responsible for production and logistics. February 2018 saw his Brand Management Board responsibility move to e-mobility, alongside work as the Managing Director and Spokesman of Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH. He stepped down from this dual role in January 2021, and is now the VW Brand Management Board member responsible for technical development.

Nikolai Setzer

Nikolai Setzer
Chairman of the Executive Board at Continental AG

“Mobility of the future will be characterised by its degree of connectivity, safety and comfort – irrespective of how the vehicles are powered. Hardware will remain important, but software will really make the difference. Continental is already well positioned for this future.”

Nikolai Setzer hails from Groß-Gerau in the Frankfurt Rhine-Main region. Studying in Darmstadt and Bordeaux, he completed a degree in mechanical engineering and economics in 1997 and immediately joined Continental AG. Promotion to management followed just two years later, initially in Original Equipment Key Account Management and Product Development. By 2004 he had risen to Vice President of Original Equipment Key Account Management, responsible for Europe, Asia and the Americas. His ascent continued through the Passenger and Light Truck (PLT) Original Equipment, PLT Replacement Europe and Africa, and PLT Tires divisions, and he landed his first Executive Board position in 2009. Nikolai Setzer held various responsibilities on the Executive Board over the following decade, and was appointed Chairman on 1 December 2020. He is also responsible for group communications and public affairs, total quality management, group strategy and Continental’s ‘co-pace’ startup programme.

Our hosts

Felix Kuhnert

Felix Kuhnert, Global Automotive Leader, PwC

Felix Kuhnert is a partner and automotive expert at auditing and consulting firm PwC, promoted to Global Automotive Leader in 2017. Born in 1969, Felix Kuhnert can look back on more than 20 years of advising original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), suppliers and dealer networks in the automotive industry. Before that, he studied economics at Freiburg, Bonn and Berkeley.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Bratzel

Dr Stefan Bratzel, Director of CAM

Dr Stefan Bratzel is the director and founder of the independent Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach. In the automotive industry, he has held several positions at smart, Quam and PTV. He has also been a lecturer and course director for Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach since 2004.

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Contact us

Felix Kuhnert

Felix Kuhnert

Partner, Global Automotive Leader, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 89 5790-7193

Lisa-Marie Grüttner

Lisa-Marie Grüttner

Automotive Marketing, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 711 25034-1724