Founder of the automobile holding Almaz Group, about 6 myths of the automotive industry, its future and the life of retailers
Even after 25 years in the auto business, I try to look at the world with wide eyes. Change has become the essence of our lives, so we need to relate to it, bypassing four of the five stages of adoption. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression? Forget it! All this is a waste of time, for which more efficient competitors will go forward.
Myth 1. Automotive industry is booming.
At first glance, the automotive industry is booming: every year, manufacturers launch hundreds of new products on the market, and the technology itself is becoming more sophisticated.
However, there is a flip side to the coin: overproduction, a decline in interest in car ownership by young people of generations Z and Y, a hypothetical transition to autonomous control, which will fundamentally change the attitude of consumers towards cars.
Myth 2. The global auto industry knows the way to a brighter future.
Even the bosses of automobile corporations are touching – the ostentatious confidence of their speeches about the inevitability of certain changes is powerless against what is happening or could happen in reality.
Today’s slogan is “never say never.” What until recently seemed unlikely or even fantastic is becoming a reality.
Electric vehicles with a power reserve of over 500 km, a fifth-level autopilot, which assumes almost complete autonomy, owning a car by subscription … Technological innovations go hand in hand with new formats for promotion and sale.
True, there is one “but”: so far no one knows exactly which of the current global trends will eventually take root. The world is changing so quickly that a paradox arises: during the time that we are getting used to the next change, the world is moving to a new round of development. With each new “tomorrow” another challenge comes into our life.
Myth 3. Electric cars will save the world.
Electric cars. There are more and more models, and electric cars themselves no longer resemble themselves five years ago. The actual mileage on a single charge is already estimated at 300-400 km, and in terms of comfort and equipment they are in no way inferior to cars with internal combustion engines.
Nevertheless, I still have no confidence that electric cars are our future. Yes, they have a long history and are now on the rise, but the problem of energy storage is still not resolved. It will be possible to talk about full-fledged mobility of electric cars only when the range is up to 800–1000 km.
On the other hand, if tomorrow a new type of battery appears to replace non-ideal lithium-ion batteries, the industry will change in no time. Today – and this is another sign of our time – the path of technology from concept to implementation does not take years, but months.
Myth 4. Elon Musk is a pioneer
The low-cost Nissan Leaf electric hatchback went into production a year earlier than the Tesla Model S, so Musk was not a pioneer in the modern history of electric cars. But it was he who became the father of the first commercially successful electric car. The unusual design from the progressive guys from Silicon Valley, a large power reserve, impressive dynamics and advanced user electronics – this turned out to be enough to change people’s minds. They began to buy the car, despite the apparent irrationality: at first Model S cost no less than 150 thousand dollars.
Only a few years have passed – and now the electric car is considered by many as a replacement for cars with internal combustion engines, and automobile concerns, one after another, are launching electric vehicles on the market. If, in addition, there is a quantum leap in the development of the infrastructure of charging stations, the world will very quickly become completely different.
Myth 5. One solid hydrogen.
Automobiles with fuel cells are good for everyone: a large power reserve, and water vapor instead of CO2 and nitrogen oxides from the exhaust pipe. Except one thing: hydrogen itself is extremely expensive to manufacture and dangerous in storage and transportation, which pushes the widespread use of such machines in the distant future.
Some manufacturers, such as Toyota, of which we are dealers, produce hydrogen cars in small quantities and sell them in selected markets, and use mobile stations for refueling. But this is a private solution, incompatible with mass sales.
Myth 6. Autonomous cars driven by artificial intelligence, coming soon
Fully autonomous cars will not appear on the roads soon. A radical revision of the concept of transport, correlated with the dynamics of human development, requires a change in people’s consciousness. Yes, and before you need to solve a lot of problems, among which the technical aspects of the interaction of many unmanned vehicles is far from the first place.
The main question is: who will be responsible when a person dies in a collision with a drone? By what algorithm will artificial intelligence make a decision in the event of a traffic accident?
In a situation where a collision is inevitable, the autopilot will face a choice: to save the passengers of an unmanned vehicle or other participants in the incident. And what if the child is in the car? And if the pedestrian is a pregnant woman?