volvo nobel memorial seminar

Enhancing business focus

The 8th edition of the Volvo Nobel Memorial Seminar (VNMS) brought together top authorities and opinion leaders in the area of Sustainable Mobility – stakeholders, including public representatives, policy makers, Public Transport authorities, Customers, smart city experts, NGOs, and more.

This year’s event also had the privilege of Mr Hakan Agnevall President Volvo Bus hosting the event together with his Bus Executive committee incl Mr Akash Passey SVP, Region International

While previous editions of the Volvo Nobel Memorial Seminar have sought to capture the essence of ‘sustainable mobility’ through dialogues with civil society, the last two editions have seen enhanced business focus, starting with the re-location of the event from Bangalore to Delhi. For VNMS 2017, we realigned the traditional evening format to a whole day event. The first half of the day was earmarked for an in-depth seminar around business topics - involving policy makers, customers, experts and influencers. A separate evening event was conceived to support the sixth edition of the Volvo Sustainable Mobility Awards (VSMA).

For the morning session, the idea was to have a theme that covered the maximum number of areas of business relevance. The Panel discussions were marked by insightful and intense keynote addresses, discussions and interactions bringing together ideas and vision that shapes the future of our cities.

volvo nobel memorial seminar

Public Transport - A case for disruptive innovations. In identifying this theme, the aim was to take stock of technology and policy changes impacting the public transport landscape in India. For the first panel discussion titled - ‘Public transport: The future is here’, the panellists were:

(1)    Mr. Abhay Damle, Joint. Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

(2)    Dr. Ekroop Caur, Managing Director, Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC)

(3)    Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General TERI

(4)    Mr. Akshay BD, Head-Public Policy,  Uber India

(5)    Mr. Ashwin Mahesh, Co-founder Lithium and Mapunity

(6)    Mr. Akash Passey, Senior Vice President, Business Region International, VBC  Corporation

(7)    Shreya Gadepalli, Regional Director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy

volvo nobel memorial seminar

Panellists for the second panel titled: ‘‘Business is no longer business as usual’ were:  


volvo memorial seminar

(1)    Mr. Girish Shankar, Secretary Department of Heavy Industries, Ministry of Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises

(2)    Mr. Durga Shanker Mishra, Additional Secretary Ministry of Urban Development

(3)    Mr. Sidharth Sihag, Municipal Commissioner, Udaipur Municipal Corporation and CEO, Udaipur Smart City Ltd.

(4)    Mr. Paritosh Gupta, Managing Director, IL&FS Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited.

(5)    Mr. Subir Pal, President, ABB India Limited

(6)    Mr. Hakan Agnevall, President, Volvo Bus Corporation

The Moderator was V Ravichandar, Chairman, Feedback Consulting


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Some of the issues that came to the fore during the discussions included, the roadmap towards achieving compliance with Euro VI norms by 2020, moves to ban fossil-fuelled vehicles in some parts of Europe, data-driven transport systems and emergence of smartphone-based car and bus hailing applications. Also discussed were imperatives to come up with a turnkey framework involving multiple stakeholders for a transport system, such has been achieved with respect to Line 55 in Gothenburg. The following are specific perspectives that emerged during the deliberations.

  •  Joint Secretary, Mr. Abhay Damle reinforced the Ministry of Road Transport’s continued commitment to bringing out superior safety and performance standards along with a timely ushering in of the Euro VI regime.
  •  There was consensus among the panellists that a certain basic scale has to be put in place for electric vehicles to be viable. Battery costs are also expected to come down significantly with prospects for indigenisation in India. There is a clear need to support the entire lifecycle of electrified vehicles through innovative and lower costs of finance.
  • While there was an acknowledgement that other modes of transport such as high-speed trains, metros and even inland waterways are getting attention from the government, buses remain the most value-driven and sustainable option.
  •   During the second panel discussion, the central line of questioning was the challenge with respect to different government agencies coming together under the umbrella of ‘Smart Cities’. Besides, Transport does not really get priority vis-a-vis other Smart City focus areas such as housing and energy.
  •  This was a point of discussion between Udaipur Municipal Commissioner Sidharth Sihag and Additional Secretary, Urban Development Ministry, Durga Shanker Mishra. Udaipur’s Municipal Corporation wishes to spend almost Rs 200 crore to boost its fleet of buses, but it has difficulties securing funds from the Smart City budget.
  •  Ministry of Heavy Industries Secretary Girish Shankar promised continued support for electro mobility through the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) programme.
  •  There was acknowledgement that a tendering process that awarded projects to the lowest bidder wouldn’t support quality public transport systems. The consideration would need to be bids that offer the best lifecycle value. But, equally, the Urban Development Ministry’s Durga Shankar Mishra stated that non-tender based acquisitions/project awards may have difficulties standing up to judicial/vigilance scrutiny.
  • ABB India’s President Subir Pal expressed his company’s readiness to partner with other stakeholders to set up turnkey transport solutions for electromobility, as has been the case with Line 55 in Gothenburg.  


volvo memorial

Evening event

Presentation of Volvo Sustainable Mobility Awards and networking with select guests

The evening event featured awards and recognitions for individuals and organisations that have made tangible contributions to Sustainable Mobility. The 6th Edition of the Volvo Sustainable Mobility Awards (VSMA) received almost 50 entries. Most winners have undertaken projects that seek to make cities more liveable by making mobility people-centric. Efforts to evolve an efficient emergency response system and improve transport efficiency through route management also received a nod from the jury.  Below is a list of Award winners and projects:


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                        Name of Organisation: Citizens for Sustainability (CiFoS)

                        Title of the project - Inclusive Mobility

Joint Runners-up:

Name of organization: SaveLIFE Foundation 

Name of project: A Good Samaritan Law for India

Joint Runners-up:

Name of organisation: U+ Collective

Title of the project: Re-Humanising Industrial Streetscapes

Special Recognitions:

(1)     Name of Organisation: Udaipur Municipal Corporation

               Title of the project: People centric restructuring of streets and intersections

(2)     Name of Organisation: Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation

               Title of the project: Route Planning for Efficient Mobility

(3)     Name of Organisation: Karnal Police

                Title of the project: Sanjhi Cycle

(4)     Name of Organisation: Oasis Designs Inc

               Title of the project: Multimodal Integration at Chhattarpur Metro Station

Led by Edward Jobson, Chief Engineer, Electro mobility VBC, the VSMA jury comprised prominent experts on different aspects of mobility.

Akash Passey hosted an interactive session wherein VBC’s BEC members along with select invitees reflected upon the proceedings of the seminar conducted earlier in the day.