Can the Motor Trade Industry compete with technology and social networking?

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Motor IndustryCan the Motor Trade Industry compete with technology and social networking?

Are young people interested in buying cars in the future? A statement by Professor Dale Harrow, the head of Automotive Design at the Royal College of Art in London doesn’t think so.

“They are being brought up in a society where you rent or hire, be it mobile phones, houses or even cars and they want to be able to upgrade to the latest technology as quickly as possible.

“People will not so much want to spend their money on cars but on the experience; car ownership will no longer be the rite of passage that it once was. We can see this trend on its way in Europe and the United States and car makers are going to have to look at how they manage this.”

These opinions reflect those of another respected another; Professor Juliet Schor, of Boston College in Newton, Massachusetts, who has conducted in-depth research of “sustainable” consumers in the US economy.

She believes the younger generation in America is falling out of love with the motor car. Instead turning their affections and interests towards their social networks or computer screens. She told ‘Headlineauto’ (a specialist Automotive Industry Media source) earlier in 2013 that “a younger generation was becoming less reliant on travel to communicate and had become increasingly aware of the environment”.

Professor Schor has also concluded that there has been a major decline in distances travelled by vehicle in America.

“We are now back to where we were in 1995 in terms of the miles covered by motorists. This is partly due to economic conditions but youth is shifting away from driving because it takes them away from their screens.

“Fewer than one third of 16-19-year-olds are applying for their driving licence in the US now compared to almost 100 per cent in 1978.”

Potentially, Car Manufacturers need to find a solution to enable motorists connected with their online activities whilst they are travelling, to enable them to continue networking, sharing information or gaming whilst on their way to work or daily commute. Will all of this be possible with the driverless car of the not so distant future?

However not all sectors of the market are in agreement. Emerging market places such as China India and others, are pushing the issues to the background

‘That’s where we find the petrol heads these days,” said Professor Harrow, “these countries are still fascinated by the car just as we used to be when we were young.

“They are still interested in cars and car ownership so in the short to medium-term carmakers can put off doing anything about it, but longer term the car industry will move into a new phase.

“We have already seen three phases in the industry beginning with Ford and industrialisation, then came design and aerodynamics and now we have lean manufacturing.

“Similarly, design has gone through three phases, the coming together with engineering in the 70s and 80s followed by companies starting to understand brands and their importance in marketing and now we have a new age in terms of understanding how new consumers who will view cars as a service rather than a product.

“Once that happens there will be a whole new dynamic to the second hand car industry because it will become more of a throwaway society.

“Maybe you will be able to change the car with new panels and colours, retaining the original platform and running gear. Take that a step further and you can have centralised manufacturing of the base platform and local customisation.

“We are already investigating rapid manufacturing techniques – the toymaker Fisher Price is already looking at 3D printer downloads for toys and while this sounds space age it could be something to look at for the future.”

There is suggestion that anecdotal evidence from within the Automotive Industry, implies that younger people in the European and US markets are becoming more reliant and preferring to using the potentially cheaper and more convenient public transport rather than becoming car owners themselves. Car-sharing and renting, whether it’s on a daily or even hourly basis seems to be ‘on the up’.

President of Kia UK (one of the fastest growing car manufacturers in the World), Paul Philpott, is not too concerned

He told a Headlineauto lunch meeting: ”The majority of customers will continue to lease or buy because of the freedom and confidence a car gives you.

“Young people, particularly in cities, may not be interested in cars as early as they once were, but wait until they are a little older and have families.

“Their kids will want to be driven here there and everywhere at all hours of the day and night.”

Just as my children do, even now they’re grown up”.

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