‘Car makers need to work hard to stay relevant in the new world’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks some car companies might not survive if they don’t adapt to the new world of mobility services

Opinion - Ford Go Further

I’ll admit to heading to Ford of Europe’s Go Further event in Amsterdam with a degree of trepidation. Here is a brand that, while still topping the UK sales chart, is a pale shadow of its former self.

Its products no longer have the desirability they used to have – and certainly don’t win as many of our group tests. And the financial woes of the company’s European arm have been well documented, with some industry watchers wondering whether this US giant might go the way of GM and exit Europe altogether.

Ford announces job losses in UK and Europe

I left with far more confidence over Ford’s future, even a level of excitement about the products that I haven’t felt for a while. There’s some great stuff coming.

But perhaps what impressed me most was a chat with Sarah-Jayne Williams, Ford’s director of smart mobility. The brand has set up its own tech hub in London to plan and trial services that will transform it from a car maker to a mobility provider. Williams didn’t need long to convince me that Ford is taking this industry inevitability more seriously than many others. Those who stick their heads in the sand about this tech, which legislators are demanding, could see sales and revenues dwindle fast.

It was a strong theme at last week’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Connected conference, too, with Toyota Connected Europe CEO, Agustín Martín, also reiterating how his firm was transforming “from an automobile company to a mobility company”.

Meanwhile, Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer warned that companies that didn’t adapt to change would fail. “Many could fall under the wing of bigger firms so we have just two or three mega-companies dominating, becoming the Boeing and Airbus of the car industry,” he said. “You will see fallout. We’ll see newcomers coming; some will succeed, some will fail.”

The message is simple: the car companies that don’t adapt to the new world of mobility services might not survive.

Do you agree with Steve? Do you think car makers need to adapt to stay relevant in the new world?

Recommended

'MINI’s brand focus needs to rub off on BMW, too'
Opinion

'MINI’s brand focus needs to rub off on BMW, too'

BMW needs to regain its identity and should look to MINI for inspiration, says Steve Fowler
28 Oct 2020
'The Pop-Up Motor Show is a simple idea at precisely the right time'
Opinion

'The Pop-Up Motor Show is a simple idea at precisely the right time'

Mike Rutherford thinks the new Pop-Up Motor Show can be the perfect way to serve the demands of Britain's car users
11 Oct 2020
'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'
Opinion

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'

Mike Rutherford thinks cars from Gerry McGovern and Marek Reichman are favourites to win design award
30 Aug 2020
'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020

Most Popular

New Suzuki Swace estate launched on UK market
News

New Suzuki Swace estate launched on UK market

Based on the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, the Suzuki Swace estate comes to the UK
11 Nov 2020
All-new Renault Kangoo van unveiled ahead of 2021 launch
Renault Kangoo ZE Concept - show pic
Renault Kangoo

All-new Renault Kangoo van unveiled ahead of 2021 launch

First images of the third-generation Renault Kangoo panel van - which will soon square-up to the new Volkswagen Caddy
12 Nov 2020
New Citroen C3 2020 review
Citroen C3

New Citroen C3 2020 review

The Citroen C3 supermini has been updated for 2020, but have the updates boosted its appeal?
12 Nov 2020