Engines of society - Mara Kroth

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In cooperation with Losch Luxembourg, we regularly present women who have a very special impact on Luxembourg society through their professional careers or simply through their personal stories.

The south of Luxembourg once boasted of being the European stronghold of the steel industry, and still proudly cherishes the remnants of this bygone era. The modest beauty and inimitable industrial charm of this region hardly leaves anyone cold and offers a lot to discover. For this reason, student Mara Kroth has decided to combine her test drive in the new Cupra Formentor with a trip to Dudelange. Today, she will not only have her first experience behind the wheel of a hybrid car, but will also discover completely new places that she would not have expected to see.

Although it's almost too bad to go indoors in such gorgeous summer weather, Mara takes the opportunity to visit the current exhibitions in the Pomhouse of the Centre National de l'Audiovisuel cultural centre. High up in the famous water tower of Dudelange, the student not only finds exceptional art, but also an unexpectedly beautiful view over the city and the region.

On the other side stretches the area of the former "Schmelz", which in the coming years will mix historical factory buildings and modern architecture and transform into a future-oriented, sustainable district that will promote soft mobility and strive for CO2 neutrality.

The young student can only support this concept. Mara does not have her own car. She travels mostly by public transport and bicycle, and tries to live as sustainably as possible. And it is precisely for this reason that she actually finds the new Cupra Formentor very appealing. With its advanced hybrid drive, the modern CUV – Compact Utility Vehicle – adapts to the needs and challenges of today. The efficient mix of a 150PS TSI petrol engine, an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery reduces CO2 emissions to just 26–35 grams per kilometre. In addition, it offers the option of purely electric driving. In this case, the Formentor guarantees a range of up to 59 kilometres and provides the perfect conditions for emission-free driving, especially in urban areas.

Like in Esch-Alzette, for example. Mara, who comes from Koblenz, has found a new home in the largest city in the south of Luxembourg. In 2015, she began her Bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of Luxembourg. In the meantime, the 25-year-old is completing her Master's in Management and Coaching. This course is currently part-time and gives her the opportunity to divide her time between her studies and work or other projects.

The fight against social isolation in old age

The self-confident young woman is one of the founders of the non-profit association GoldenMe, which does everything it can to prevent people between 55 and 69 who are already retired or about to retire from loneliness or social isolation through digital education.

At a time when many people no longer have professional goals and suddenly have to open up new perspectives in their lives, Mara and her colleague Johannes Heuschkel are committed to promoting the media skills of senior citizens as well as breaking down digital barriers so that they can continue to participate in daily life without restrictions.

"I would like to see people or associations who are socially engaged generally valued more."

The impressive acceleration power, strong roadholding and precise steering make driving the new Cupra distinctly pleasant and exciting, yet also surprisingly comfortable. The sports car's first-class chassis conveys the dynamism and fire for which the brand is known. In terms of design, Mara would describe the Formentor as "rather rustic". Although this expression may sound old-fashioned at first, what is meant is rather its unpretentious and modest appearance. Without putting itself too much in the limelight, the Formentor with its spacey design hits the current trends in the exterior as well as in the interior and fully adapts to the needs and wishes of the modern customer.

Since always, the Seat brand's most powerful models have borne the name Cupra. In 2018, the division split off and has since presented itself as the sporty and passionate subsidiary brand. The Cupra Formentor is only the second model from the newcomer brand to feature an advanced hybrid powertrain and the first to be developed specifically for the Cupra brand. The contemporary performance CUV is available with two different engines, with 204 or 245 hp. The Formentor is designed to mark the brand's transition towards electric mobility and show that electric powertrains and performance undoubtedly go hand in hand. It combines efficient sportiness with the practical space and comfort of an SUV.

In 2018, Mara participated rather by chance and mainly out of curiosity in the Ideation Camp, a workshop organised by the Incubator of the University of Luxembourg. This programme aimed to teach the participating students how to develop an idea in order to create and build a start-up. Mara did not have a concrete idea for a project at that time, until the topic of age was suddenly brought up. A few months earlier, after the death of her grandfather, Mara had dealt with the topic of loneliness in old age for the first time when she observed this phenomenon in her grandmother. So it became very important for her to find a solution to counteract this problem.

With the project based on this idea, Mara and her team were finally able to win the Ideation Camp and were pleased with the great and positive response from all sides. A short time later, her fellow student Johannes joined them and GoldenMe began to take shape. At that time the two students just had to find a concrete direction for their project. It quickly became clear that THE solution to the problem of loneliness does not exist, as it simply has an infinite number of facets and is received and felt differently by each individual. They decided to focus their association on digital education, as digital communication not only guarantees the contact of seniors with the outside world, but is also beneficial in many other situations in life. Be it to book a doctor's appointment online, manage their bank accounts from home or now also to use the CovidCheck app.

Recently, the E-Senior 2.0 programme was launched. This is an Esch-Alzette-based campaign in cooperation with the Esch BiBSS as well as the municipality, which aims to introduce seniors to the digital world in a lively and entertaining way. On the one hand, explanatory videos are broadcast every Wednesday on Esch regional television (EschTV) to present knowledge and tips about the digital world to both beginners and those who still want to learn a thing or two. Thanks to these videos, even those people who do not yet have internet at home get access to the information provided by GoldenMe.

On the other hand, every Wednesday in June, the association organises the so-called "smartphone cafés" at different locations in the city of Esch-Alzette. At these meetings, seniors can have all their questions on different topics answered by helpful students and finally get to socialise again. Mara herself knows about the special advantages of intergenerational exchange, because she lives in a shared flat with a woman who could actually be her mother in terms of age, and this experience has opened up completely new perspectives for both women.

Nowadays, this knowledge of digital systems is indispensable in all situations, even when driving. This is also the case with the new Cupra Formentor. In addition to its first-class safety systems, which for example automatically notify the emergency call in the event of an accident, and the fully networked and user-friendly infotainment system, you can check and control some of the Formentor's functions such as the air conditioning, as well as the fuel and battery gauge remotely via the brand's own Cupra Connect app.

By now, Mara is in the midst of the imposing, historic industrial buildings of the charming "Schmelz" area in Dudelange. Even though she knows that she will visit this incomparable place again very soon, it feels a little hard to make her way back towards the capital. Fortunately, the enormous driving pleasure of the Formentor makes the way home much more appealing. The combination of conventional and future-oriented propulsion system allows her to switch between combustion engine and electric drive or simply use a mixture of both. By default, the Formentor starts in electric mode every time it is driven and only switches to the combustion engine when the driver decides to do so, when the battery capacity falls below a certain level or when the driving speed is more than 140 km/h.

Committed together

Conscious use of modern media is an unavoidable topic for all age groups these days. For this reason, in addition to GoldenMe, Mara and Johannes also work as BeeSecure trainers, where they visit schools to educate children about the dangers but also the advantages and benefits of digitalisation. Interestingly, the two often notice certain similarities between the different generations. Among both the children and the seniors, there are those who have already dealt with the topic relatively much and now want to learn even more. Others, however, have their doubts and respect for technology, and the seniors in particular often wait until the very last moment to get serious about it.

Through her involvement at the University of Luxembourg, Mara has also been able to participate in the organisation and moderation of the university's prestigious international TEDx events, a task she enjoys a lot. As if that wasn't enough, the ambitious student is also active in Global Shapers, an international youth organisation that inspires young people to tackle local and global challenges and do everything they can to find solutions to create a more sustainable future together.

GoldenMe is already happy about the interest of many more communities who would like to implement projects and events like the one in Esch-Alzette together with them. Those who are not yet completely at home in the digital world, or who would like to provide help and social contact to a family member, are welcome to visit goldenme.me for additional information about the organisation.

Mara has now arrived back at Losch in Howald and is grateful that she was able to try out a car that she can definitely identify with and that, with its sleek design and forward-looking drive, fully represents her values of a modern and sustainable life.