UK: Former Volvo Cars chief downbeat on EVs
The former boss of Volvo doesn't think electric cars will be the future of the automotive industry - because fear is the key.
In this connected age, the thought of your battery running down is what concerns people the most.
Stefan Jacoby, who was chief executive officer of the Swedish car company until recently, said: "If the battery goes down on their cell phone people feel really bad. If it's your car in the middle of a traffic jam you will feel even worse."
It's that emotional connection which is a major stumbling block for electric vehicles, said Jacoby. That, and the price.
These issues are being addressed but Jacoby added: "I don't believe EVs will have a major role in the future. They will have some sort of role, for example, in cities as taxis or urban delivery vehicles, but for a normal household, no. or the next 10-15 years we will see various hybrid solutions, mated to the conventional internal combustion engine playing the dominant role."
As technology moves on, the internet will play an increasing role in the car buying process - but there is still a place for the traditional dealer.
Speaking at a media lunch organised by headlineauto, Jacoby said: "Although they will do all their research online, and in many cases be better informed than salesmen, customers still want to drive the car at some point before making a commitment."
Dealers will still have to move with the times, however, and re-think their business model, Jacoby added.
"I was surprised when the South Korean carmakers came into Europe and they kept with the traditional dealer network model. This has worked for them and now they have really cool products, but I think they had an idea opportunity to try something new."
By new, he means tapping into the internet and social networks. "Taking the car to the customer rather than waiting for them to walk through the showroom door. There is no reason why you can't do away with expensive city centre dealerships and have out-of-town service centres with a showroom element attached."
Jacoby, now fully recovered from his recent stroke and looking decidedly sprightly, also previously headed up Volkswagen's operations in Asia and North America and was CEO of Mitsubishi Europe. He has a unique insight into the global automotive business.
He said: "I'm looking at the industry from the outside for the first time in 27 years. One thing that has changed from when I started out is that this is no longer a job for life or one where you are necessarily in the same place all the time.
"When I started out in 1995 you only competed with your fellow Germans. Now you have to compete with people from China, India and all over the world. The pace of change has also picked up - just look at communication: It took radio 38 years to reach an audience of 50m people, television took 13 years, the internet four years and twitter just nine months.
"With model development and lifecycle times of 10 years the motor industry is starting to lag behind. It has got to learn to move more quickly."
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