Automotive Business Review :: Editor's Letter
January/February 2018
   Automotive Business Review

Planning for the Future...

The automotive aftermarket is in good shape at the moment, what with close to 10 million vehicles plying the South African roads, and depressed vehicle sales an indication that people and businesses are postponing vehicl
e purchases because of low consumer and business confidence, thus creating bigger maintenance demand.

However, 2018 promises a more positive political and economic climate, which will boost consumer and business confidence levels, and this will lead to higher vehicle sales. This will not immediately impact the aftermarket, but a few years of higher car sales will start to reduce maintenance demand in two to three years’ time. This in itself is not a train smash, but lurking in the shadows is the expected uptick of electric and hybrid vehicles, and a little bit down the line the introduction of self-driving cars will indeed start having a significant impact on aftermarket parts sales.

Planning for the future will thus require an informed look at the crystal ball, and some detailed research into what the vehicle parc will look like in ten to fifteen years’ time. I base this scenario on what I heard at the second Connected Mobility Conference Shanghai on 30 November 2017, which was held in conjunction with Automechanika Shanghai 2017. The theme of the conference was “Accelerating the Race towards Autonomous Driving”, with the focus on four aspects which symbolise the main challenges facing the proponents of self-driving vehicles – autonomous driving technologies, wireless communication, regulatory definitions, and connected customers. aBr will be covering this conference in more depth in our March 2017 issue.

When these obstacles are cleared, the move towards self-learning, and by implication self-driving cars, will accelerate exponentially. To give you an idea of how fast this will happen, take the prediction of Will Wong, consulting professional at Frost & Sullivan. Wong assists the world’s top multinational companies to develop market penetration strategies, and at the conference he predicted that by the year 2025 there will be 53 million self-learning cars on the world’s roads, compared to the 1,5 million self-learning cars today. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Wong predicts that 2025 will be the tipping point, and that by 2030 internal combustion engines will be looked at with a mixture of amusement and contempt.

Of course, Wong operates in the progressive parts of this planet, and his calculations are based on what is happening in the first world. For us in the third world, suffering under the yoke of appalling governance and self-serving politicians, we will always be behind the curve. But, as sure as night follows day, Africa will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the modern era, despite infrastructural challenges. The main reason for this is that when the manufacturing hubs in the Americas, Europe, and Asia stop producing ICE vehicles, Africa will have no source for the pollution belchers. It will take maybe a decade, but eventually those ten to twenty year old bangers will fade away.

Start planning, folks.


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