Bloomberg journalists, Keith Naughton and David Welch, believe that the countdown has begun for the car to be seen from the cities as "that pony of the twentieth century." In a recent article they detailed the factors by which the world will optimize its use to avoid pollution of cities and, in passing, dodge its enormous economic cost by purchase, insurance, maintenance and fuel. In developed countries there are fewer and fewer young people who enroll to get their license, and carsharing or carpooling gains space in large cities, which can mark the path of the roof of global manufacturing. That cap would be around 100 million units a year, according to the economic information agency, compared to 97 million in 2017, the latest data from the world employers (OICA).
Although other studies say that in the short term that will not happen. PwC, which produces one of the most consulted global reports in the sector, estimates that manufacturing will not stop until at least 2023. "There will be growth, but much lower than what we have been seeing, of around 2.8% annual. We could place ourselves in 111 million units per year by that date ", estimates Manuel Delgado, responsible partner of the automotive industry of the consultancy.
On the other side of the coin, global vehicle sales fell in 2018 for the first time in nine years. It was a slight 0.5%, up to 86 million, according to data from Jato Dynamics, but enough to raise the alarm. Especially China, the main global engine, which registered 28.08 million units, 2.8% less than a year earlier. "Something is happening. It is evident that the car is being transformed. It does so because of new economic and geopolitical conditions. Add to that the saturation in mature markets. In Europe we have reached 800 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants, "adds Delgado. Italy in recession, Germany skirting it, the Brexit in suspense, China landing from its huge growth past and Latin America without taking off point in that direction.
For now, there are no official production figures for the last year. In a 2018 advance made by the European employers Acea a few weeks ago project the decline of manufacturers in almost all markets. The largest will be in Asia, responsible for half of the new vehicles that are launched every year on the planet and leader in electric models. For European employers, their potential has stagnated at 42 million cars (excluding commercial vehicles), which represents a drop of 1.1%.
In the constellation of problems that overfly the sector there is one that worries especially: the increasingly scarce profitability of the manufacturers (OEM). The challenge of electric cars, connected or autonomous has disrupted many future plans and has eaten margins in the income accounts. All move, and many do so thinking that collaboration is the only way out. Volkswagen, for example, has just announced that it will open its platform for MEB electric vehicles to other car manufacturers.
The prosperity experienced by the engine from the year 2010, in short, "could become a chapter of short duration." Writes it Joern A. Buss in a report on the sector of the consultant Oliver Wyman. Companies will have to prepare for the perfect storm of transformative technologies and change in customer behavior, a combination that "will challenge the business pillars on which the industry is based." Or that, rather, is already changing them. The increasingly tight profitability of brands pushes to redefine new operating models to maintain competitiveness. "In parallel, both suppliers and vehicle manufacturers should promote holistic performance improvements to offset the necessary investments and absorb other externalities that lie ahead," Buss said.
The future, those 100 million will be exceeded or not, will depend on a few things, according to KPMG projections: the technology, the use of the vehicle, the available resources and, especially, "the increasing relevance of the regulator". The consultant projects a future (2040) in which almost electric battery parts (30%) coexist with hybrid (25%) electric fuel cell (23%) and combustion engines (23%), depending on their Global automotive report.
In Spain the glass is half full. "We handle forecasts from different sources that say we can reach 2040 with 120 million vehicles," they say in Anfac. "We should not think only about more mature markets. There are others that are in full development, with large populations, which have a very low motorization and a long way to go. "
China does not sink
A manager of a great brand remembers that one can not confuse the slowdown in China with a setback that will cause a tsunami in the sector. "The country continues to grow at 6%, India at 7%. It is true that the main markets are down, but what happens has to do with the pure economic cycle. Another thing, he points out, are the structural tendencies, and there are many unknowns. "The concept is changing, the car will be a source of mobility and connectivity services." It's already happening, given that a particular vehicle is only used 5% of the time. "The car stops being a product to provide services. Young people do not want to have possession, they want the mobility and connectivity that it provides. " And that battle has a much more unpredictable result.