Quit clown­ing around

Executive Magazine - - Contents -

In­com­pe­tence in the sec­tor is no longer funny

traf­fic along the Beirut-Jounieh cor­ri­dor—some­thing like Bruce Wil­lis’ fly­ing taxi from “The Fifth El­e­ment.” (Dubai just an­nounced the first ur­ban test flight of the drone taxi that is be­ing de­vel­oped there by a Euro­pean com­pany)

But with all that is un­cer­tain about the au­to­mo­tive fu­ture here, what is cer­tain is that we can­not wait. Le­banon’s qual­ity of life, ur­ban pro­duc­tiv­ity, and econ­omy will only de­te­ri­o­rate if cur­rent traf­fic stan­dards and au­to­mo­tive habits are al­lowed to pre­vail. That is why this is­sue’s au­to­mo­tive cov­er­age goes deeper and broader than a mar­ket­ing-happy look at new mod­els that are on of­fer for lo­cal driv­ers. (But we have those too, see McLaren story on page 44).

We call on the Le­banese gov­ern­ment to re­vise its think­ing around trans­port, and to over­haul tax leg­is­la­tion that dis­cour­ages peo­ple from switch­ing to cars with bet­ter emis­sion profiles. We call on the gov­ern­ment to start think­ing about in­cen­tives for elec­tric mo­bil­ity in what­ever form,

It’s not just on the cen­tral gov­ern­ment—mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can also help speed the adop­tion of green ve­hi­cles while cre­at­ing a bet­ter touris­tic im­age for all of Le­banon. The coastal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties—like Sour, Saida, Beirut, Jounieh, Jbeil, Ba­troun, and Tripoli— can play an es­pe­cially im­por­tant role in pro­mot­ing elec­tric and hy­brid ve­hi­cles by in­stalling recharge sta­tions and im­ple­ment­ing pub­lic trans­port us­ing elec­tric buses.

Just as we do not want to hear about a new in­ter­na­tion­ally fi­nanced study for a trans­port so­lu­tion from any pub­lic sec­tor stake­holder in Le­banon (we had all the stud­ies we could ever want), we are tired of hear­ing vac­u­ous con­sul­tant talk from the au­to­mo­tive sec­tor wax­ing about distrib­u­tors’ com­mit­ment to the en­vi­ron­ment, pub­lic trans­port, or peo­ple’s mo­bil­ity. We call on car deal­ers to in­vest more in fu­ture-proof skills such as the abil­ity to ad­vise on, charge, and ser­vice elec­tric cars, in­stead of just build­ing big­ger and shinier show­rooms to at­tract cus­tomers. Car distrib­u­tors and agents can­not af­ford to treat EVs and hy­brids as ex­otic jokes that they can dis­miss as read­ily as dumb jour­nal­is­tic in­quiries.

Distrib­u­tors who of­fer good ser­vice for EVs and who pre­pare for au­tonomous driv­ing—which in the opin­ion of the in­ter­na­tional car ex­ec­u­tive Car­los Ghosn will be part of the so­lu­tion for traf­fic de­con­ges­tion in Le­banon, to­gether with in­fra­struc­ture investments and pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ships (see in­ter­view on page 48 for Ghosn’s re­marks and PPP cov­er­age on page 24)—will play a ma­jor role in se­cur­ing a bet­ter life in Le­banon’s ur­ban and non-ur­ban ar­eas, and in help­ing the Le­banese econ­omy stay afloat in its race against global com­pe­ti­tion.

Be­sides au­to­mo­tive com­pa­nies, pri­vate sec­tor play­ers such as banks, in­sur­ers, large re­tail­ers, and malls can con­trib­ute to boost­ing the im­age and prac­ti­cal­ity of elec­tric or hy­brid ve­hi­cles that could be brought to the Le­banese mar­ket. We want to see things such as green auto loans, in­sur­ance dis­counts for EVs, recharge sta­tions at hy­per­mar­kets, and free EV park­ing at malls.

The hur­ri­cane in the global auto in­dus­try is com­ing, and it will even­tu­ally make land­fall in Le­banon just like ev­ery­where else. It is time to rein­vent the Le­banese wheels, for the sake of our com­pet­i­tive­ness and a bet­ter qual­ity of life for to­day’s young gen­er­a­tion.

We call on the Le­banese gov­ern­ment to re­vise its think­ing around trans­port

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