Hearing the term innovation probably wouldn’t excite you as much as a lab geek who spends most of his day testing different chemical compounds with the hope of achieving desired results. But truth be told, there isn’t a single major industry today automotive included, that isn’t in some way or the other dependant on chemicals for their final output.
Speaking specifically about the art of engineering a full-fledged automobile, car manufacturers aren’t really alone in their painstaking task of bringing an operational vehicle from the drawing board to the streets.
From the paint that dresses your doors, the foam that hides behind your seat covers to the plastics that shape your cabin it’s chemicals that ultimately form the DNA of each of these countless individual components, which then come together to create a working automobile.
BASF’s recent “marketplace of innovations” exhibit at Mumbai’s NESCO grounds was a very colourful reminder of just that, but the actual depth of its contributions and the manner of its presentation to that effect left most of us quite spellbound.
Intelligent Innovations and their implications on future mobility
BASF’s one of a kind exhibition layout featured 20 colourful innovation booths, each one dedicated to a different aspect of the chemical company’s areas of operation ranging from organic solar cells, lightweight technologies, water solutions, wind sustainability and biodegradable plastics to electro-mobility solutions and modern insulation materials among other revelations.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show last year, my colleague Priyadarshan was invited by BASF to witness first-hand a very forward-looking electric vehicle christened the Smart Forvision, which the chemical major has developed in collaboration with Daimler. Understanding the complexity and menagerie of the innovations that went into making this vehicle a reality would need an article in itself, which it has deservingly been awarded (Read : Smart Forvision - The Future of Electric Mobility).
The global implications of such a vehicle for the automotive industry however is an entirely different story altogether. Everything from sound and heat absorbing insulation materials like open-pore and non-organic hybrid foams, to energy-efficient transparent organic light-emitting diodes in the solar roof, Infrared-reflective films for glazing and even the world’s first all-plastic wheel rim created with long glass fibres using a unique injection-moulding process seen on the Smart Forvision are infact technologies that will be made available to car manufacturers around the world depending on the nature of their needs. Every manufacturer so far has shown interest in different aspects of the many automotive innovations which have come together to make the Smart Forvision such a global technological success.
A massive leap forward from its first concept vehicle made three years ago in collaboration with Hyundai, the Smart Forvision is BASF’s showcase of what future mobility will inevitably shape up to and according to Dr. Albert Heuser, President, Market and Business Development, Asia Pacific, BASF East Asia Regional Headquarters Ltd, India and China are among other Asian countries which are showing a particular interest in such innovations at a very early stage with hopes of jumping ahead of the competition.
Summing up BASF’s objective behind conducting this world tour, Prasad Chandran, Chairman, BASF Companies in India & Head South Asia said, “Through the Marketplace of Innovations, BASF is showcasing solutions from the world of chemistry for the challenges of a growing world population. The “We create chemistry” world tour in this perspective offers stakeholders a panoramic view of the latest and most exciting innovations from BASF.”
Having already covered Shanghai in China, as well as Detroit, Florham Park, Charlotte, Houston, Mexico City, Toronto and Sao Paulo in North and South America, BASF’s “We create chemistry” word tour after completing its Mumbai halt will now travel to Tokyo in February and Seoul in May 2013.