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Kevin Borras


An ITSWorld Congress that saw a strong showing by car manufacturers can only be a good thing. Can’t it?


Kevin Borras is editor ofThinkingHighwaysand editorial director and co-founder of H3BMedia. kevin@h3bm.com; www.thinkinghighways.com


W


alking into the exhibit hall at Tokyo Big Sight, venue for the 2013 ITS World


Congress, I was instantly catapulted (mentally, not physically) back to 1998 and my first ITS event, ITS America’s Annual Meeting & Expo at the Cobo Center in Detroit. I remember being introduced to an


exhibitor who took me to one side and gave me a hugely detailed explanation of what his bit of kit did…it was mightily impressive but I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about or what it did. Tis happened three more times at three more exhibition booths, despite my pre-demonstration protestations that I was new to the industry. I was beginning to think it was all a bit too much for me when I spotted a Detroit Police Department patrol car around the next corner. Tis was also my first trip to the US


and I’d already seen steam emanating from street drains and been threatened with a gun so that was two “must see” items ticked off my list and now here I was looking wistfully at a “cop car” straight from the movies. Te roof- mounted flashing red and blue lights were giving me a bit of a headache but hey, this was more like it. I know cars. Te exhibit booth personnel could doubtless sense my nervousness and talked me through the emergency vehicle dispatch system like the absolute beginner I absolutely was and suddenly I didn’t feel like the most stupid person in the room. Tose few minutes sat in the front of that police car that made me think this was something I could do and understand. Tere were plenty


North America Vol 8 No 3 ❝


Seven major car makers were present at the 2013 ITS World Congress in Tokyo with brightly colored cavernous booths





of car manufacturers there too and it’s amazing how quickly the unfamiliar can become familiar. Sadly though, the car companies seemed to withdraw from the next few ITS World Congresses and they became more noticeable by their absence. I even stopped looking for them whenever I downloaded exhibitor lists, but, as I write this foreword in an aeroplane over Outer Mongolia (that’s what the flight map says anyway) on my way back from Tokyo, things appear to have changed. I am delighted to report that seven


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major car makers were present at the 2013 ITS WC with brightly colored cavernous, occasionally overstaffed booths. You would have been hard- pushed not to notice Nissan, Toyota, Suzuki, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Honda and Daihatsu, together with motorcycle giant Yamaha and although only a few of their booth personnel spoke English it represented something of a ‘seachange’ to see the automotive world so majorly out in force at an ITS World Congress. Te consensus was: the car companies are back. Or are they? I spoke to many ITS


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people while in Tokyo and for every two people who believed this to be a good thing (“If nothing else it’s great for our sector’s image to have major players on the showfloor”) there was one who believed the opposite to be true (“How much of this is for show? How much are they here because everyone else is?”) and it’s hard not to see it from both perspectives. In my opinion though, it has to be a good thing BUT it’s also vital that the car companies are strongly represented in Detroit at the 2014 ITS World Congress. It’s Motor City for pity’s sake...historically, anyway. I’m looking forward to it already.


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THE VIEW Foreword Thinking


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