For years, almost since its very inception, the automotive sector developed with little or nothing to hinder its growth and success. Any adversity, such as the oil crisis of the early 1970s, was overcome relatively smoothly. The succession of innovations that saw automobiles evolve from the Ford Model T to the SUV did not, however, reduced their cost, making them the only “mass-market” product to distinguish themselves by becoming ever more expensive. Even so, price remained the main criterion that swayed the purchasing decisions of consumers.
Various constraints, not least those of an environmental nature in the broadest sense of the term, then gained more weight. Then the powers that be decided that electricity would be the sole energy source used in the cars of the future. And then, financial, economic and geopolitical crises came one after the other in what seemed like the blink of an eye. As car sales faltered, the automotive sector as a whole was thrown into doubt and came under unprecedented pressure.
As car sales faltered, the automotive sector as a whole was thrown into doubt and came under unprecedented pressure. This pressure has resulted in a plethora of new regulations being introduced over a very short space of time.
This pressure has resulted in a plethora of new regulations being introduced over a very short space of time. As part of our ongoing mission to make sense of the latest trends and identify the direction in which the automotive sector is heading, we thought it would be useful to look at the underlying reasons for what is undoubtedly a pivotal moment for the industry. Today, motorists are losing their points of reference and are no longer really sure which brand to go for, as they weigh up the value of switching to electric cars. Our use of the term “fog” is also a very topical metaphor for what is happening to our climate.
This Observatoire Cetelem 2024 once again reveals contrasting viewpoints, some surprising and some concerning. These will no doubt prompt a response among all automotive stakeholders, particularly the carmakers themselves. But if there is one thing that everyone will surely agree on, it is the need for this fog to clear as quickly as possible, so as not to be detrimental to us all.
Head of L’Observatoire Cetelem