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All change, global autoindustry finds itself at a crossroads 
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Fri, 16th December 2016 14:54:11 GMT

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Open quote signWhat a difference a year makes. Almost overnight it seems, strategies that have worked a treat in the past no longer guarantee success. What’s more, the way the wind is blowing at present, the future will look nothing like the past and anyone soldiering on as if nothing has happened, is likely to hit the buffers. Really hard.

 Whichever way recent events are looked at, we are witnessing the start of a paradigm shift in the automotive world. 

All-round drastic change is underway. 

The few unwilling to change will eventually be swept away by a whirlwind of change. 

If not in the next five or so years, but then in all likelihood during the mid to late 2020s at the very latest. 

Driven foremost by the realisation that air quality in many of our forever growing cities has already reached crisis point, the change is about to reach breakneck pace. 

It is here, where noise and pollution are big concerns and where recharging/refuelling networks for BEV (Battery Electric Vehicles) and fuel-cell vehicles can be dense, that electric vehicles make most sense.

A chorus of Cassandras, forewarning for years of the dire environmental consequences of unchecked motoring have been replaced by sane, down to earth politicians realising that finally enough is enough. 

The time to act is now. In consequence, it is not a question of if conventional powered cars and taxis, delivery vehicles and buses will be effectively banned from large parts of many global cities, but when. 

Here, the eventual wholesale switch to electric power, be that batteries or more likely fuel-cells, is no longer dreamland. 

The inevitable switch will happen, albeit somewhat later than some believe. 

But, the inevitable underlying switch from combustion engine technology to say electric power - increasingly and realistically fuelled by genuinely green and affordable renewable electric power, is still seen as a sideshow. 

The new watchword: mobility services.

About to affect city dwellers almost overnight, city mobility is changing fast. In parallel, private car ownership in most European cities will likely be discouraged by way of draconian charges and discriminatory byelaws. 

Enter UBER-type car-hailing and car-sharing services, resulting already in the pell-mell introduction of a bewildering choice of new mobility providers. 

Sooner rather than later, consolidation is inevitable. 

This switch is gathering pace at breathtaking speed. 

Before we know it city centres of major towns will largely be free of private vehicles. 

Instead, vehicles run by affordable new mobility providers, working harmoniously with public transport, will be seen milling around city centres. 

It is here, where driverless electric vehicles will soon play their part.

The slam-bang revolution in both automotive technology and private mobility is soon likely to transform chiefly city mobility. 

Already, more than half of humanity now lives in cities, and even more will soon. 

But out in Europe’s countryside, amid an explosion of grey hair, the conventionally powered car, gradually switching to PHEVs, will likely drive on a great deal longer
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