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Mobility is a vital contributor to prosperity.

After eight years as president of the Auto-Schweiz Importers Association, François Lonaz will step down as president next Tuesday, May 17th, handing over the office to Albert Rusty. It was a satisfying time, he later says, although the fight against the car is getting increasingly tough. In an interview with AUTOMOBIL REVUE, he described what moved him during this time and the advice he would like to give his successor.

Automated review: In June 2014, eight years ago, I assumed the position of President of Auto-Schweiz. How did you feel during this time?

Francois Lonaz: It was a great opportunity for me to get this position. At the time, I thought I would continue my career at Honda, where I worked for 25 years. It has turned out differently now, and I’m grateful for that. We work in a small team at Auto-Switzerland and have nothing to do with importing cars. Auto-Switzerland is primarily about politics, and that was new to me. Our concern is to defend the interests of motorists. Because we must not forget that mobility has made and continues to make a decisive contribution to the prosperity of the economy and the prosperity of our country. This work has given me great satisfaction.

Looking back, what were the highlights of your tenure?

We were able to get the Dairy Cows Initiative, which wanted to spend an additional 1.5 billion Swiss francs annually from the federal treasury for road traffic, before the electorate in June 2016. It was a huge success.

But this initiative was met with strong rejection by the voters, and not a single canton accepted it.

This is correct. But it allowed voters to accept the National Roads and Clusters of Transportation Fund (NAF) in February 2017. The initiative has lobbied and, according to our estimates, raised about CHF1 billion for motorized road traffic. We were also very happy to accept the construction of the second Gotthard road tube in 2016, the rejected vignette price increase of CHF100 in 2013, and then of course the CO failure.2Last year’s law.

What made you less happy?

The battle against the auto industry – keyword: emission problems – is becoming more and more irrational. The obstacles keep growing and the auto industry is not getting any support. Abroad, for example, e-car buyers receive government subsidies, but we don’t. We accept that, but there needs to be more support from the authorities for the infrastructure, ie the installation of charging stations for electric cars, for the whole thing to go through. I always have a feeling that people are fighting against solo hopping like it’s the devil.

Did you achieve all the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of your tenure?

One does not achieve all goals. But we have managed, for example, to hold regular talks with the current Minister of Transport, Sommaruga, as Auto-Switzerland and other road traffic associations. Needless to say, we don’t always have the same opinion. There were also regular meetings with her predecessor, Federal Chancellor Leuthard. There are other success stories. As far as the number of e-cars is concerned, its market share is already 15 percent today, by 2025 it should be 50 percent and in 2030 even 80 percent. So, like Federal Chancellor Sommaruga, we are also striving for decarbonization, that is, to shift as quickly as possible from the use of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas or oil to renewable and carbon-neutral sources of energy.

How dangerous is the spread of the Corona pandemic on the Swiss car industry?

It’s not over yet, and you still meet her. We’ve got two really bad years ahead of us, 2020 and 2021. In terms of passenger car sales, we’re currently 11 percent behind on the previous year. We won’t meet the goal of selling 270,000 cars for this year, car sales will likely remain at 240,000 cars. Unlike catering establishments, we went down lightly.

What are the reasons for the decline?

First of all, there are delivery problems. The wire pigtail that is mainly manufactured in Ukraine is missing. The same applies to microchips, most of which are produced in China. So this situation had an impact on the flea market. With very few new cars or long delivery times of up to a year due to the mentioned reasons, many people have switched to used cars, which in turn has increased prices in this market.

Could the Swiss Automobile Association have intervened in any way to help?

It was not possible and not possible for us. And don’t forget: there have been times in the past two years when all of the showrooms have been closed. Nothing happens in the sales arena anymore.

Unlike Auto Gewerbe Verband Schweiz AGVS, your assembly does not have any sections. How do you stay in touch with brand executives?

Auto-Switzerland has 36 members. We meet with the brand’s CEOs twice a year. I visit every CEO once a year and we eat lunch together. Because you learn more when you eat than when you visit the office! This takes time, but is well invested. This way I am always up to date. I made this rule. Such visits have not occurred before.

How difficult is it, the difference
Do you bring the interests of your members to a common denominator?

This is a difficult task at times, because we have brands big and small, and it doesn’t always work out as well as we’d like. But in general, we always find a common solution.

Car manufacturers are trying to sell cars directly online. Also under discussion is the so-called agency model, in which the dealer becomes a pure intermediary between motorists and manufacturers. What do you think?

In principle, we do not comment on sales models and strategies. This is up to our members.

How would you describe the relationship between Auto-Switzerland and VFAS today?

For us, VFAS is a competitor that we tolerate. But we have the same problems on many political issues. VFAS also attended talks with Federal Chancellor Sommaruga.

What types of drives do you see the greatest chances of success for the future of the car?

First and foremost in the field of electric mobility, but one should not ignore other technologies. In addition, I think that the required ban on internal combustion engines is wrong. Perhaps synthetic fuels or hydrogen will come one day. Today, however, time is compelling us to promote electric mobility. Politicians can set goals, but they shouldn’t tell the industry how to achieve them, because the industry knows that much better than it does
Policy.

Do you dare to predict when the internal combustion engine will end?

No, but I don’t think it will ever go away.

Consultations on the Mobility Pricing Project have been completed. It is likely that this year the Federal Council will decide how to proceed. What is Auto-Schweiz’s position on navigation pricing?

A distinction must be made between the mobility pricing project and the planned new financing system for road infrastructure. According to my information, according to Federal Chancellor Sommaruga, the mobility pricing project has been blocked or postponed for the time being. Nothing is happening at the moment. The task now is to find a solution to fund road infrastructure in place of the current mineral oil tax and the additional mineral oil tax. We still have time for that, but we still have to think about it.

And what are these ideas?

As a basis for future funding for road infrastructure, I can envisage a mileage-related fee based on the principle that whoever drives more pays more.

What is your position on the pricing of mobility?

Mobility pricing is good as a tool for financing road infrastructure, but it should be rejected as a guidance tool. It is unacceptable, for example, to penalize passengers who live somewhere outside the country’s population centers and who rely on their cars to get to work.

The Geneva Motor Show has been canceled in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Do you still believe in its future?

I hope that manufacturers of different brands will show their interest until the 2023 Geneva Motor Show takes place. I would be very sorry if he died because it was such a wonderful event. By the way, I organized 25 car shows in Geneva for Honda, so I know what I’m talking about.

With Council of States Thierry Burkhart as central head of Astag, National Chancellor Thomas Hurter as central head of AGVS and Albert Rosti behind you, there is a trio of cars in the Federal Parliament. Will this decisively enhance the voice of the auto industry?

If they succeed in sensing and anticipating the future ideas of the Green Left’s opponents in Parliament more quickly and taking appropriate countermeasures, this could lead to their weight gain. Today, solutions must be found politically in advance.

What are the biggest challenges facing the auto industry in the coming years?

This is anti-noise and the goal of reducing CO2 as quickly as possible2Driving freedom. As far as noise is concerned, the direction in cities is probably around 30 km/h. In eliminating carbon dioxide2 The industry continues to operate at full speed and I am convinced that it will achieve this goal.

Do you have a wish that you would like to pass on to your successor?

I hope that after his term expires, as I can tell, the time will be right. I felt very happy.

for someone

Francois Lonaz He has been president of the Swiss Automobile Importers Association since 2014. He studied engineering and economics at HES University of Applied Sciences in Western Switzerland. Before coming to Auto-Switzerland, his career path took him from his father’s garage via Mercedes-Benz to Honda Switzerland, where he worked for 25 years, most recently as Vice President.

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