Predicting the future is a risky proposition often filled with guesstimates and theories based on current events and hoped for consequences. At the same time, automakers are busy doing just that in anticipation of future consumer demands, emerging markets, fuel availability, and so much more. So, with all of that in mind and knowing that only God knows the future, here are some of my predictions concerning worldwide automotive production circa 2015.
Consolidation General Motors, Toyota, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Peugeot/Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen, and some other manufacturers are likely to snap up competitors, especially in emerging markets. Nope, I do not see the end of GM or Ford. Instead, I see both automakers concentrating on what they do best: making money overseas. The big factor in all of this will be the impact that Chinese built cars will have on local markets. If the cars are fairly well made and priced below the prevailing market rate, look for several companies to join forces in a bid simply to survive. Look for low priced Indian built cars to be sold worldwide beginning early in the next decade.
Emerging Markets China and India are the emerging markets of today. Look for several African nations to be the market for tomorrow provided further internecine violence doesn’t quell growth. The Central American nations and several South American countries will also benefit from strong growth.
New Fuels Hybrid gas/electric technology will only be a blip on the screen once hydrogen cars enter production. Honda is probably the closest to building production hydrogen powered cars with GM and Toyota not too far behind. Once the first hydrogen powered cars enter production, the world will see a revolution in automotive technology not seen since the advent of the internal combustion engine. Expect government mandates to ensure that every automaker has access to hydrogen technology.
New Technology Think green! Besides hydrogen power, the actual vehicle body is likely to change significantly too. Depending on availability, lightweight composite materials will be incorporated to help reduce costs and lower weight. Truly “smart” cars will arrive that will anticipate crashes, prevent roll over, and completely shut down or takeover control if the driver is incapacitated. Look for further gains in seating comfort, sound systems, lighting, and air management.
New Transportation Although the personal passenger vehicle is not likely to ever disappear, newer versions of the same will show up especially in crowded cities. Three wheel cars, car/motorcycle hybrids, and vehicles that can be hooked up to one another [in train formation] will be produced for certain markets.
Of course, if the world is embroiled in a major war at any time, all of this will come to naught. Still, what many identify as “auto production” will change radically perhaps as soon as the next 3 or 4 years. I can’t wait, can you?