Like quite a few others, I broadcasted for many years how the EU automotive sector was driving into a wall while ignoring the uptake of its Chinese counterparts.
Fast forward to 2023, and the signs of decline cannot be ignored.
As Chinese vehicles demonstrate an undisputable edge in terms of digital integration, efficiency, and, yes, design, protectionism is the last solution on the table.
It's not. But it will probably require a few more dominos to fall. And by domino, I mean large bankruptcies. As I write this, it's not unrealistic to see VW getting there within 2 or 3 years.
If it's the case, will it be a wake-up call? This industry is so entrenched in its narrow culture that I wonder. I also wonder if this shouldn't be a full reboot with fresh operators entering the market. When I look at a Tesla today, I see the car of the future... from 2012. The technology continues the beat the crap of everyone else, but the concept of the car itself is dated. When I look at the impressive BYD top models, I'm very much impressed, and yet they speak of big-city urbanism and highways. Fine for crushing BMW, but what of Dacia?
There is so much room for reinvention and innovation. And I'm not even addressing the other elephants in the room (there are quite a few of them). What about the cumbersome market of auto insurance, the borderline scam that is financing and leasing, the antiquated concession model, oh, and let's not forget the bloody energy distribution system?
And while I'm looking at the sad state of our automotive market, don't blame them too harshly for their cultural blindness. Most other EU industrial sectors are smoothly entering the same pipeline.
The IT sector...
The luxury sector...
Or pure deeptech...
We see the tidal wave coming. It's slow-moving and should be rather difficult to ignore.
Don't be depressed, though. As for the automotive sector, there is room for reinvention. So. Much. Room. And we even have a standard innovation practice to deal with such dramatic turnarounds.
I know. It sounds gruesome and unbearable, and yet it's a playbook many of us have practiced many times over. Now that design thinking is less en vogue, maybe we should return to more systemic and impactful innovation strategies.