A while ago I made a prediction about electric cars and the executive car of the future. I speculated about self-driving electric vehicles travelling at 300mph. Quite simply, they would replace trains and possibly airplanes. I still believe this utopia will arrive in our lifetime. It could happen even sooner. The automotive brands we know, and love today though, might not be part of that future.
It hasn’t really been reported in the mainstream media, but China has been playing out a long-term political strategy in the automotive industry. As their economy grew and a consumer appetite blossomed, they encouraged car manufacturers to set-up in China. They wanted them to build and sell in their country. In response, car manufacturers flocked to the opportunity of record car sales.
Automotive manufacturers established new plants in China and trained new staff. They set up dealerships and networks and spent money on advertising and marketing. This was deemed a major investment by the (legacy) car brands. However, once they had committed to their investment, China changed the rules so many cars cannot be sold.
By releasing the new VI B emissions standard, China is ensuring the investment made by legacy manufacturers is futile. It leaves little scope for a return on their hard cash and most car companies have eyewatering amounts of debt. Imagine committing all your funds, only to be told it will not be profitable. In addition, battery technology developed by China is giving their new products a competitive advantage.
As Ford and General Motors announce their new EV agreement with Tesla, I really do wonder if the car brands we know, and love will survive. Maybe it is time to look at alternative manufacturers differently? I arranged an extended test drive of a Genesis EV but when I told some people, they dismissed electric cars completely. It reminds me of the story when people said the motor car would never catch on and horse drawn carriages were better.