The automotive sector - what future?

Sector Futures provides specialised reports based on the monitoring of existing foresight studies, scenario work, innovation studies and reliable data sources. July 2004 features the last article in the series on the future of the automotive sector. It explores some of the directions that EU policy could take to safeguard the future of the industry and guarantee a cleaner and safer environment for all citizens.

The automotive industry is one of the largest and most multinational of all industries. It is a key indicator of economic growth and a major contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP) of several Member States and the EU. On a global level, the assets of the top ten multinational automotive enterprises represent 28% of the assets of the world’s top 50 companies, 29% of their employment and 30% of their total sales. In 1999, four of the world’s ten largest companies were in the automotive sector: General Motors (no 4), Ford (no 5), Toyota (no 6) and DaimlerChrysler (no 7). Several other European based companies can be found within the top 100 companies: Volkswagen (no 12), BMW (no 20), Renault (no 28), Peugeot (no 49), Fiat (no 51) and Volvo (no 88).

In 2003, William Clay Ford Jr., Chairman of the Ford Motor Company, declared that ‘the automobile business is about to experience the most profound and revolutionary changes it’s seen since the Model T first hit the streets’. These changes result from the convergence of several major drivers affecting the automotive industry at the start of the 21st century.

From defining trends and drivers...

The June 2004 feature, The automotive sector at a crossroads (pdf 306 kb), provides a snapshot of the automotive sector, focusing on some of the trends and driving forces that will map its future.

... to shaping the future of the automotive sector

The second feature in the series, Scenarios for the automotive sector (pdf 225 kb), explores in greater depth scenarios and other relevant future work likely to shape developments in the sector. It draws up two contrasting scenarios, which are not intended as accurate pictures of the future, but by projecting trends and ideas that are current in 2004, they present alternate ends of a possible spectrum for the future. The article concludes with a 'wild card' scenario that, should it occur, would severely threaten the future of the industry.

Policy implications

The third and last article in the automotive series, Balancing conflicting pressures: the automotive sector of tomorrow (pdf 228 kb), focuses on policy issues for the future of the sector. Its objective is not to propose policy per se, but rather to stimulate dialogue and debate about policy alternatives aimed at both safeguarding the future of the industry and guaranteeing a safer and cleaner environment for all citizens.

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