We’ve seen some positive signs for Europe’s automotive industry: EU passenger car sales were up 6.5% in the first half of 2014, and EY is forecasting the market to end the year up 3% – 5% higher than 2013. There’s been good news for European vehicle manufacturing, too, with PwC forecasting a 5.4% year-on-year increase in vehicle assembly, taking the 2014 total to 16.8 million units.
Commercial vehicle registrations in the first half were 9.3% higher than in H1 2013, according to ACEA; trucks need trailers, and CLEAR International expects trailer demand in Western Europe to end the year 10% – 15% stronger than 2013.
But Europe’s automotive industry is not out of the woods yet, says ACEA’s Erik Jonnaert – and there’s plenty to keep industry stakeholders awake at night. Russia’s increasing isolation has diluted earlier forecasts that it would soon overtake Germany as Europe’s largest new vehicle market. In the eurozone, GDP growth was flat in Q2; Germany, which generates around a third of eurozone GDP, saw economic output fall by 0.2%. The eurozone’s two other largest economies also failed to grow, with France performing badly, and Italy falling into its third recession since 2008. And events in the Middle East and the Gulf continue to occupy politicians and trouble investors.
The purpose of Megatrends, however, is to look not at this year and next, but at what’s shaping the industry over the coming decade and beyond.
Take eCall, for example. Delayed from 2015, everything – from emergency response infrastructure to the supporting telecommunications – now has to be up and running by 1 October 2017. Every new car will need to be fitted with an on-board SIM – just think of the implications and opportunities that mandatory connected car technology creates, from standalone applications like emergency call transmission to usage-based insurance, driver assistance, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and ultimately semi- and fully-autonomous drive technology.
We’ve identified Powertrain Innovation and eMobility as key megatrends, as OEMs need to meet tough new emissions targets. But how will they meet those targets? Pure EVs? Hybrids? FCVs? We spent a day with Hyundai to learn more about its ix35 Fuel Cell. Exciting technology – but let’s not forget the improvements that can still be found in ICE technology.
For the CV sector, New Year’s Day 2014 meant the implementation of Euro VI, but OEMs and suppliers were already trying to second-guess how a ‘Euro VII’ might look. Fuel efficiency, emissions and air quality are global problems; regulations and standards are regional; yet the products to which they apply are sold globally. The call for global emissions regulation is growing louder; at the same time, TTIP negotiations between the EU and the US are intensifying. With new emissions regulations expected in Europe and in the US around 2020, could we see harmonisation on the agenda?
Whilst the industrial side of the automotive industry focuses on making and maintaining relevant products, significant change is happening at showroom level. From how people buy cars to whether people buy cars at all, the customer-facing side of the industry needs to remain ahead of the game.
These are the key megatrends that we see shaping automotive industry development. Welcome to Megatrends.
Martin Kahl, Editor, Automotive World