AS the world’s automakers morph from more straightforward car manufacturers to mobility providers, you have never been more firmly ensconced in the driver's seat.
Several of the big guns have recently announced – and more will certainly follow – that they are widening the aperture of their business from just making cars to providing personal mobility networks and vehicles.
Why? Because they see the need to respond to your evolving requirements and tastes – making it easier, for example, to share, pool or lease a car, or a different mode of transport. We are truly entering the mobility era.
Big plans take time to evolve but the pace of re-direction is such that you will begin to see and feel the benefits of change sooner rather than later – starting with new emblems, moving to designs and ranges that will have more electric cars and uses for them.
Expansions don’t come much bigger than the merger of FIAT and PSA, which should unleash downstream benefits for millions.
Now called Stellantis, it is the world’s fourth-largest auto group. Headed by current PSA chief Carlos Tavares, there will be billions of euro invested to become part of the electric, mobility era.
It will be good for us all to have such a competitive entity in what is an increasingly diverse market.
KIA is also pushing hard with transformative plans to expand as it reveals its new face and slogan.
Like so many others they are planning on becoming “a mobility company rather than a car manufacturer”. Part of the brand re-launch will involve changing the look of dealerships.
We were told it is “only the beginning” of the new era and that “there will be many more announcements over the coming months”. The old ways are giving way to the new at a ferocious pace.
The Korean firm says it will break away from its traditional manufacturing-driven business model and create mobility products and services to improve “customers’ daily lives”. See what I mean about the ‘mobility era’.
The move is part of its long-term strategy which puts lots of emphasis on new EVs: seven will be launched by 2027. First up is a coupe-crossover, from its new E-GMP platform, which will be unveiled shortly.
Others will include a range of passenger cars, SUVs and MPVs across several segments. During a recent Q&A on the brand re-launch, one thing they referred to a lot was the importance of interior design.
There will also be ‘Purpose-Built Vehicles’ (PBVs) for corporate customers.
These will be built on flexible ‘skateboard’ platforms with modular bodies and include car-sharing and delivery vehicles. Kia president and CEO, Ho Sung Song, said: “Our vision is to create sustainable mobility solutions for consumers, communities, and societies globally.”
Meanwhile, the Renault group’s outlining of a massive new plan – they call it the ‘Renaulution’ – is a prime example of the dramatic changes afoot. There will be a huge increase in Renault’s electric vehicle range, more Dacias and the reinvention of Alpine as a performance brand.
New company boss Luca de Meo called it a “profound transformation”.
It is based on three phases.
The ‘resurrection’ era runs until 2023 and is aimed at increasing cash flow and profitability. Then there will be the self-explanatory ‘renovation’ era followed by the ‘revolution’ phase, which will switch to a focus on “tech, energy and mobility” major electrification and new mobility schemes.
The plan involves a bigger focus on vehicles by switching from six to three platforms and from eight powertrain families to four. By 2025 there will be one petrol powertrain that can accommodate hybrids, as well as one electric, one hydrogen and one diesel powertrain.
Renault will also launch a new version of the legendary 5 as an electric hatchback. By 2025, the brand will have rolled out seven full-electric models. Dacia, they say, will “stay Dacia with a touch of coolness”.