We continue our exploration into the future of composite materials. It is the turn of Davide Seletti, engineer and CEO of Dallara Compositi. It is an opportunity to talk not only about materials, but also about Covid and how the pandemic has changed the situation and perspectives of some sectors such as racing and, moreover, how the trend of investments in the field of urban mobility could change.
by NICOLA CATENARO
Engineer Seletti, what do you think the future of composites will be?
«I have been working in this sector for 25 years and, if I have to put together what I see, there is an enlargement of the market and growth in different businesses and activities, now a little more reachable even by common people. It is difficult to say what the future of these materials will be, of course, but the applications in which they are used are certainly growing, starting with the automotive sector where composites are no longer present only in high-end cars. If we extend this reasoning to other areas, the potential is very interesting».
Is urban mobility an area where composites could grow?
«In the field of urban mobility, where there are many resources today, it is necessary to understand whether the projects underway are currently destined to develop as a business or to turn out to be a bubble. I am thinking of the vehicles halfway between cars and aircrafts, which should ideally have zero impact from the point of view of C02 emissions and which should ensure the urban transport over short distances, perhaps even autonomously. Before Covid, I believed in it a lot. Now, with the mobility that has been reduced and having all of us learned that you can also work in a place other than the headquarters of a company or an institution, I am no longer sure that the idea of selling all these new vehicles of the future is well founded or does not prove too optimistic».
How has Covid affected your business?
«It has hit some markets very hard, such as racing. It could be said that the races were held anyway, but that's not quite the case. Some competitions have disappeared, those that took place often had no spectators, and therefore not even receipts, and since there were no collections, the financing model for these events was lost and the transition to a reduction in development costs was accelerated: from a simple subject of discussion, it has suddenly become a necessity. So everyone dealing with ultra-high performance composites suffered a lot. Other markets have not been touched at all, I am thinking for example of some aerospace sectors. As for the automotive sector, the high-end car sector with long waiting lists even threatened to rise after a first difficulty due to the closure of factories. If we look at civil aviation, the repercussions have been considerable while the military one has not even noticed. It all depends on the sectors».
What are Dallara Compositi's current objectives in light of what has happened?
«There have been no major variations. We continue to do what we did and had plans to do. Certainly the damage it did was that it prevented us from investing for two years, which is an obstacle for a company that has always invested a lot. However, the forecasts are good and the idea is to return to excellent results in a short time even if, perhaps, with a mix of products slightly adapted to the new situation and market demands».
Davide Seletti is a Mechanical Engineer. After graduation, he started his career in the Composite Materials and Racing business, being employed at Dallara as a manufacturing engineer. In 1999 he switched to Ferrari Gestione sportiva as the F1 Composite Materials Team Leader, then being promoted in 2008 to Production manager role. After 6 F1 Driver and 8 Constructor World Champion titles, as well as some title lost in the very last race, in March 2014 he was appointed CEO at Camattini Meccanica (Dallara Compositi since 2018) the company of Dallara Group dealing with composite materials. Davide also achieved an Executive Master in Technology & Innovation Management at Bologna Business School and is a member of Board of Directors at Innovation Farm, a non-profit organization in Fornovo.
22 June 2021