Whenever one sees an MPV trundle past, it is tempting to think of David Carmon famous barb aimed at Tony Blair you were the future once. In the 1990s MPV looked like the future. After the first wave of full-sized models, came the Renault Megane Scenic which brought MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) to the family car segment. Having digested that cautionary tale, let us try and make some predictions for the car market of year 2030.
Car sale segment
On one level, the rise of SUVs and crossover has made a big difference to the complexion of the market. However, on a different level, the change over the past 20 years is actually quite small. The A segment has grown slightly, the B segments are broadly the same they were and only the mainstream D segment has collapsed, but a lot of that is due to the rise of premium alternatives.
The autonomous vehicle appears the size of cars is determined by the same need customers had for many decades. It is striking that fundamental alternatives have generally failed the smart for two does OK but No.
The manufacturer has seen the introduction of a rival. A smart has to be the same width and the height as any conventional hatchback, and it’s loose of a couple of feet of length does not make it much easier to thread through traffic. Even crossovers are not much of radical departure putting a different ‘’top hat ‘on a golf platform to create Tiguan is only revolutionary in a marketing sense.
The autonomous vehicle is the great talking point when pub conversation turns to cars. There is a lot of loose talk about AVs being on the road in 2021, but that generally refers to a small number of specially identified roads.
It is not hard to imagine AVs being allowed in certain areas of a city within five years, and city centres area being reserved purely for AVs within 10 years. The autonomous vehicles have a lot of limitations including the usability in limited areas where public charging docks are available for fast charging. Infrastructure can be installed. It is possible that within 10 years 15%of lights vehicles sales could be self-driving pods the ultimate MPV.
However, an AV that can take you from said central London to a holiday cottage in Devon is going to take longer perhaps not until 2030. The biggest issue is the testing intensity which will have to be done for all manner of surprising irregularities. In one case last year Volvo was perplexed to find the Av was apparently a Kangaroo hopping across the road in front of it. That was a particular edge case that has now been corrected for, but the problem is no one knows how many other such cases are out there.
The other side of the coin is that human does even more unpredictable thing then computer: in early motorway, test platooning where truck drivers’ autonomous couple of meters behind each other drivers of passing cars started driving closer to the car in front. There was unconsciously processing the gaps between the trucks as the normal distance.
The broader question for the car market is whether a AVs is really a car. Not from the point of who drives it, but of who owns it. There is a school of thought that says an AV has more in common with a large truck than a car it is an expensive piece of capital equipment that needs to be used for many hours day to pay back its costs. For most journey people want transportation, and a car is currently the most convenient solution.
This seems to be threat premium brands, but the reality may be more complex. Ian Robertson, the outgoing global heads of sales at BMW manage to expand so quickly over the past 20 years because finance scheme such as PCPs made BMW affordable for far more people. He thinks for more autonomous transport- if you are going to be picked up by a pod, wouldn’t you like the one with a BMW logo?
Perhaps if mainstream transport needs are met by pods, cars that have a manual driving mode for the odd weekend blast along the country road are more likely to come from premium brands like BMW and Jaguar.
With a manual driving, mode could be an attractive personal vehicle for the well wealthiest people. It is hard to see someone buying a Citroen C3 to scratch the occasional itch to go out for a driver.
The rise of the AV does not mean the end of the car as we know it. As Elon Musk pointed out the arrival of the car did not mean the extinction of the horse-it just mean horse riding became a leisure pursuit rather than a means of transport.
One may argue that SUVs are simply the next MPV and could suffer the same fate, but that seems unlikely. Once people have experienced a higher driving position, which rarely wants to go back to a hatchback. Whereas MPV traded higher and practically against in image being ‘’beige of wheels’’, SUVs have both practically and better image a win with a scenario.
The only thing they lose out on is handling agility. In fact, most body style, beyond hatchback and SUV cross over to look like they are in trouble, At least for mainstream brands, .saloons have less been banished from the B segment and C segment even the mighty VW cannot persuade us to buy Jettas.
Mainstream brand themselves are banished from larger segments the non-premium D segments fell to just 2.7% market. Share in the first five months in 2018, and it seems to be heading towards near extinction. A mainstream coup is largely thing of past while non-premium cabrios have also largely disappeared the dopey Vauxhall Cascade being the final nail in the coffin.
Of course, it is very different on the premium side of the road. While mainstream brands more are ever more constrained, premium brands can sell almost any shape imaginable small saloon? That will Mercedes CLA large hatchback? The BMW 5 series GT MPV? BMW2 series equal they can carry on selling convertible of all sizes from mini to Vauxhall convertible is really not going to cut.
Overall the most surprising statistics is the market is now fewer fragments in terms of body style than it was in 2000. Then the two most popular body style accounted for 75.8%of the market. Whereas today it is 85.9% so much for buying across overlook different. It seems that most alternative body style will continue there will always be executive saloons van-based MPV and luxury coup but they show no sign of mounting a recovery any time soon.