What Just Happened? Or didn't: a Personal Perspective on Three Decades of Forecasting Change in Automotive

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Glenn Mercer, Paris (2020)


Change, forecast, industry, trends


The author has studied the automotive industry since 1985, from various perspectives: academic (if indirectly, via IMVP and GERPISA, and as a Visiting Professor at Coventry University), consulting (two decades at McKinsey), and commercial (Board seats at 5 different automotive suppliers). A constant throughout this time is a relentless flow of forecasts about how "everything will change" in automotive. Chinese cars would flood the market, OEM scale economies would drive their consolidation down to just a few survivors, fuel cells would lead automotive into "the hydrogen economy," the internet would make build-to-order ubiquitous, and so many more. Many of these forecasts came true; many did not; and many we are still waiting to see what will happen. This presentation will cover a look into "the past of the future:" what trends vanished and which did not. The discussion is not purported to be scientific, but a personal reminiscence, illustrated with facts and quotations along the way. It may have some use for current researchers now making their own brave forecasts!


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