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It’s an understatement to say the automotive industry is evolving at a rapid pace. 

With all this rapid-fire change, it’s impossible to predict precisely what the world of automotive will look like in five years. Breakthroughs in technology, materials science and engineering are continuously reshaping the industry—a process further amplified by the urgent need to address climate change and embrace sustainable transportation solutions.

This innovation will have wide-ranging impacts across the entire ecosystem. Next-generation technologies and advanced connectivity features are revolutionizing not only the vehicles themselves, but also the way we interact with them. Moreover, the rise of new mobility services such as ride-sharing platforms, car subscriptions, and micro-mobility solutions is challenging traditional ownership models and redefining the concept of personal transportation. 

It’s not just innovation that generates uncertainty. Increasingly, there is a societal and political conversation about the future of transportation, its environmental impact, and the role of government in regulating and incentivizing sustainable alternatives. Infrastructure investments, emissions regulations, and subsidies for electric vehicles are becoming key components of policy agendas, while urban planning initiatives focus on fostering more sustainable and integrated transportation networks.

While we can't predict the future with absolute certainty, we can prepare for it. Strategic thinking about the future of automotive demands that we consider the multifaceted changes unfolding across society, technology, economics, politics, and the environment. 

Our goal is to fuel industry leaders’ imaginations and help them envision a range of plausible future products and services. We hope the ideas, trends, and opportunities discussed here will inspire you to think about your role in shaping a sustainable, accessible, and innovative future for getting people where they need to be.

Here are some of the emerging shifts we’re preparing for: 

Culture & Society

Shifts in how people think about mobility

Technology & Connectivity

Shifts that enable new mobility experiences in the automotive space and beyond

Purchasing & Financing

Shifts in the ways people access mobility products and services

Politics & Regulation 

Shifts in the regulatory environment of the automotive industry

With Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) well into their peak earning years, and Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2013) establishing careers and considering big-ticket purchases, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) can’t afford to ignore the distinct values of younger consumers as they relate to cars—especially car culture and ownership.

Automotive customers in these age cohorts are tech-forward. They prioritize sustainability, efficiency and convenience over muscle and styling. For them, a vehicle is less a status symbol and more a tool that enables their lifestyle—the on-the-go urbanite, the up-for-anything weekend warrior, the after-school activities family, and so on.

Having come of age in the digital world, they demand vehicles that offer a range of high-tech features and services. At the same time, they’re more likely to embrace shared mobility services and alternative transportation modes in an effort to minimize the cost and hassle of car ownership and reduce their environmental footprint

From performance to features

Consumers are looking beyond the chassis, powertrain, and finish to a vehicle’s innovative digital feature set. These feature sets—which include driver assist, automation, sensors, connectivity, entertainment, navigation, voice control, and more—are subject to constant innovation in a race not just between OEMs but between the industry and the rising expectations of digital-savvy consumers personalization, customization, and responsiveness.

From status to lifestyle

Gone are the days when consumers prioritized a brand or price tag to assert their social standing. Instead, today's buyers express their individuality and fuel their passions through their vehicle choices. This has given birth to a diverse array of specialized vehicles designed to cater to a multitude of hobbies, interests, and lifestyles. From adventure-seeking off-roaders to ecoconscious electric car enthusiasts, the modern automobile has become an extension of one's personality, unique interests, and deeply held values. Manufacturers are tapping into this trend, delivering customized and tailor-made experiences for drivers, with a focus on personalization, comfort, and adaptability. We have entered a new era of automotive passion, with customers making purchase decisions based on how a vehicle can enhance their daily lives and enable their pursuits.

From ownership to mobility as a service

Young people are driving less and are slower to pursue their driver’s licenses. For them, the pull of traditional car ownership is being replaced by a more dynamic, multifaceted approach to getting where you need to be: car-sharing, ride-hailing, and micro mobility options, among others. These services are empowering users to access the exact right vehicle—from sports cars to electric scooters—on-demand and as-needed, without the burden of ownership.

When new tech paradigms emerge, people seek to make sense of them by relating them to what they already know (thus “horseless carriages”). While the next generation of cars will borrow heavily from the look and feel of the predecessors we know so well, they’ll actually be something entirely different: moving physical-digital platforms that enable new experiences in transportation, communication, productivity, and entertainment. In the present stage of evolution, we can only begin to imagine some of these changes.

As next-generation cars evolve, they will transcend the boundaries of traditional transportation and become multifunctional hubs, seamlessly integrating various aspects of our lives. With advances in connectivity, autonomous driving, and immersive technologies, these vehicles will offer unparalleled levels of personalization, adaptability, and convenience, redefining our perception of mobility and transforming the way we interact with the world around us.

From ride to experience

As the industry moves toward fully autonomous vehicles, the nature of car journeys is set to be transformed beyond recognition. With drivers becoming passengers, the car can become more than a mere means of transportation; it can serve as a multifunctional space, capable of being converted into anything from a playroom or classroom to an office or relaxation hub. The implications of this transformation are vast, with the potential to turn previously idle travel time into valuable time for work or leisure. No longer bound by the constraints of traditional driving, occupants can immerse themselves in a diverse array of engaging activities while on the move. In this new world of automotive experiences, advanced infotainment systems will offer seamless connectivity, enabling passengers to stay informed, entertained, and productive. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies will further elevate the in-car experience, transforming the cabin into an interactive playground or a serene, rejuvenating oasis.

From repair to patch

As vehicles increasingly adopt digital technologies, the industry is witnessing a shift from traditional repair methods to the seamless application of over-the-air (OTA) updates and patches. This transformation is propelling automobiles into the realm of digital gadgets, where software solutions hold the key to enhancing performance, functionality, and user experience. Automakers are harnessing the power of OTA updates to deliver real-time enhancements, bug fixes, and feature additions without the need for physical maintenance or dealership visits. As cars become laden with software, the potential for patches and fixes promises to revolutionize the way we approach vehicle maintenance and ownership. By simplifying updates and minimizing downtime, this digital transformation paves the way for a more streamlined, user-centric automotive experience that adapts and evolves alongside the ever-changing technological landscape.

From roads to networks. 

The “Internet-of-Mobility" has the potential to create a truly revolutionary driving experience, where the car becomes more than just a means of transportation, but an extension of our digital lives. As the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds blur, our vehicles will become intelligent assistants, capable of understanding our preferences and needs, and providing personalized solutions to optimize our travel experience. Moreover, the Internet-of-Mobility will also foster the development of smart cities, as interconnected vehicles contribute to more efficient urban planning and resource management. This new era of connected mobility promises not only to transform the way we drive, but also to reshape the very fabric of our cities, paving the way for a more sustainable, convenient, and interconnected future.

Driven by evolving consumer preferences, digitalization, and innovative financial solutions, the vehicle purchasing and financing landscape is undergoing a significant transformation. In some regions, traditional dealership visits are being replaced by seamless online platforms, enabling customers to browse, customize, and purchase their dream vehicles from the comfort of their homes. Financing options are becoming increasingly diverse and flexible; they now cater to a wide range of budgets and lifestyles, offering consumers the freedom to change vehicles more frequently, ensuring access to the latest models and features.

As the automotive industry continues to adapt to these changes, we expect additional innovations in purchasing and financing that prioritize convenience, personalization, and accessibility. 

From dealerships to marketplaces. 

Today’s dealership experience is a remnant of a bygone era before the rise of e-commerce and digital financial services. As consumers become increasingly comfortable with online shopping for everything from home goods to homes, online vehicle marketplaces are disrupting the traditional dealership model with a more streamlined, user-friendly, and informed buying experience. Not only do these platforms provide transparent pricing and easy access to vehicle comparisons, but they also remove the stress of high-pressure sales tactics. By empowering consumers with the tools and information they need to make well-informed decisions, online vehicle marketplaces are transforming the car-buying process into a more enjoyable and efficient experience, ultimately leading to greater satisfaction with the vehicles purchased. 

Appointments to care plans. 

The rise of smart diagnostics, digital vehicle platforms, and innovative financing models is ushering in a new era of repair and maintenance experiences. Embedded diagnostic systems continuously monitor performance, component health, and wear-and-tear, allowing for real-time alerts and early detection of potential issues. By leveraging the power of telematics, vehicle data can be securely transmitted to dealerships and service centers, facilitating a seamless and timely maintenance experience. Car owners can use apps on their smartphones as an intuitive, convenient way to manage their vehicle's health, schedule maintenance appointments, and receive tailored service recommendations based on their specific usage patterns. These apps not only enhance user engagement but also promote a proactive approach to vehicle care. Furthermore, innovative financing models, such as vehicle subscription services, have introduced comprehensive care plans that bundle maintenance, insurance, and roadside assistance into one convenient package. By simplifying the ownership experience, these all-inclusive solutions encourage timely and consistent vehicle care, ensuring optimal performance and longevity.

Automotive is on the cusp of significant political and regulatory challenges. This is true, we believe, of every industry with deep legacies in 20th-century business practices. Business models that rely on material extraction, complex global supply chains, and energy-intensive production and operating processes face pressure to achieve greater environmental sustainability; become accountable for their externalities; and expand their contributions to creating a healthier, fairer, and more just society. 

And it’s not just watchdogs and regulators leading this push. Consumers want products that are sustainable and ethically sourced, and that align with their higher values—even if it means paying more.

The 21st century is shaping up to be an era in which companies are expected not just to deliver innovative products and services, but also to prioritize the well-being of the planet and its people. Companies that lead the way in adopting these new models and practices will avoid being flat-footed by changing regulatory regimes while setting the standard for innovating under emerging constraints—an essential survival skill for modern businesses.


From emissions to externalities. 

Consumer perception around EVs is changing (a quarter of Americans say their next car will be one), and governments and regulators continue to incentivize EV ownership through tax credits, rebates, infrastructure support, and emissions regulations. But while EVs eliminate the issue of CO2 emissions related to burning fossil fuels while driving, they do nothing to solve the growing concern surrounding the impact of microplastics  on the environment and health—a problem to which rubber tires and brake pads contribute significantly. The supply chains that support EVs are still dependent on the mining and processing of minerals such as lithium and cobalt; their production requires significant energy and resources; and disposing of their batteries at end-of-life can have environmental consequences if not managed properly. For all these reasons, we should expect more regulatory scrutiny to be turned on EVs in coming years. 

From disposal to circularity. 

Recent years have seen a growing recognition of the need to transition to a more sustainable model of production and consumption. Governments, regulators, and companies are now pursuing “circularity” as a core value for doing business in the 21st century. Within this paradigm, resources are conserved, and waste is minimized through design, reuse, repair, and recycling. Some industries, like apparel, have made considerable progress in implementing circularity into their business strategies, but for complex goods like automobiles,  the journey toward circularity has just begun. 


From car-centricity to multimodality. 

Policymakers and urban planners are taking stock of the impact of cars on urban environments and preparing for a future in which more people than ever live in the world’s cities.  The result is a shift toward human-centric urban design philosophies. Part of this reappraisal is a focus on "multimodality," which recognizes that different people have different transportation needs and that a diverse array of options is required to provide convenient and sustainable transportation for all. This shift is reflected in modern urban planning and transportation policy, with cities and state governments investing in bike lanes, pedestrian zones, and public transportation infrastructure while also promoting the use of shared mobility options like bike-sharing and car-sharing.  OEMs will have to adapt to these new priorities.

The ideas, trends, and opportunities explored in this report highlight the immense potential for innovation to transform the way we travel and experience mobility, while also addressing pressing issues like sustainability and efficiency. Diversified micro-mobility services, car sharing, the rise of e-commerce, a rapidly changing regulatory landscape, and the imminent arrival of autonomous vehicles—each of these trends represent a set of new challenges and opportunities for automotive companies to reinvent themselves and redefine the way that people move through the world. 

We invite all stakeholders in the automotive industry to embrace the transformative potential of innovation to shape the future of mobility. By embracing new technologies and adapting to changing consumer preferences, we can create a future mobility system that meets the needs of both people and the planet.

To learn more or to discuss how these trends might be impacting your business, visit the Automotive section of our website or contact us