While the idea of the automobile was invented in the late 1800s in Germany and France, the true commercial revolution of the industry occurred in the 1920s in the U.S. There were 40+ years of experimentation between 1880 and 1920, with different form factors such as steering sticks, drive systems, and even names (like the Stanley Steamer). Brands and technologies were secondary until the true mass production of one common form, and with that development in the 1920s came the exceptional volumes and growth rates that led to the tripling of registered drivers in the U.S. between 1920 and 1930.
The question now is this: Are we in the 1920s-like stage of an EV world that will usher in new economic models for a future defined not by the combustion engine but by software? Or are we still in an age of experimentation like the one from the later 1800s to the product revolution of the 1920s?
New EV companies such as Tesla, Rivian, Polestar, Waymo, Uber, Piaggio, Fast Forward, Envoy Technologies, Hyliion, Ztractor, ChargePoint, or Revel, or companies such as SAIC, BYD, FAW Group, Geely (they own Volvo), BAIC, or Dongfeng could become the new leaders in this world, changing the way we think and experience the automobile. Or it could be the list of traditional vendors, from GM to Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota, and Hyundai who revolutionize the economic models and experiences we all (humans and machines) have with automotive products and services.
Ford certainly put their name in the hat in a big way with their recent announcement of an $11.4 billion investment in new vehicle and battery plants.
The current automotive industry sees razor thin (sub 5%) net margins, and the industry has a growth rate of less than 3% per annum. That is not a good formula for vibrant success, unless something changes. The traditional automotive industry might be worth just south of $6 trillion by 2025. The EV market might be valued at over half a trillion by that time.
This new EV number may sound small, a mere 12%, of the total by 2025. But when we talked with Forbes to leaders in the automotive industry about the new business models that would be driven by this EV revolution, 19% of them said they believe that their future isn’t just EV but will likely be a predominantly intelligent systems world. This means a world driven by constant interactions among the consumer, the company, and the product, with whole new economic models from the supply chain perspective (software led), constant innovation with digital feedback loops, and the capacity for automotive vehicles (whatever form they take) to self-heal and be reprogrammable through the cloud.
One in five executive leaders are convinced that this is the future. For comparison, consider the