Icona to play it smart in China's decarbonization

Chen Huizhi
Icona, an Italian company that specializes in automobile design and sets smart cities and smart mobility as its vision, has a positive outlook on its future in the Chinese market.
Chen Huizhi

China is a country that is up to the challenge of innovation in reducing carbon emissions, improving sustainability, and developing the green economy because the political will and huge investment required are present, said Teresio Gigi Gaudio, founder, chairman and CEO of Icona Design Group.

Gaudio, who leads the Italian company, which specializes in automobile design and sets smart cities and smart mobility as its vision, made the remarks in an online interview with the Chinese press during the fourth China International Import Expo.

"China has set ambitious goals in decarbonization and the country will most definitely achieve its goals because the country is known for sticking to its pledges, as shown in its infrastructure success and performance in the COVID-19 pandemic, and Icona wants to be an active player in this future which is not too far away," he said.

Icona Group has over 130 designers, modelers, engineers and project managers around the globe, and about 80 are permanently based in Shanghai.

The need to innovate and design mobility in a green and smart way arises from megacities with huge populations such as Shanghai, where congestion and carbon emissions from traffic are substantial, according to Gaudio.

In recent years, the company has teamed up with local companies in the service industry to develop autonomous robots and vehicles. With Meituan, it has developed an autonomous robot for food delivery, and with JD.com it has worked on an autonomous vehicle for goods delivery. It has partnerships also with some other Chinese companies.

For Gaudio, China is the destination to try out some of the top-notch solutions in this regard.

"In China, which is the world's largest market in consumer and industrial products, there is a lot to be done to improve the quality and user-friendliness of such products, and everybody here is talking about the improvement of the quality of life in cities," he said.

However, while the technologies are already there, there are still some problems to be addressed in order to further promote autonomous driving, Gaudio said.

"Human beings are afraid to give control to intelligent robots, and there is a lot to be done to convince people that such systems are reliable," he said. "The other problem is that huge investment is needed to connect vehicles to vehicles, to infrastructure, to people, and to everything else, which is coupled with necessary policy framework."

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