An an eye-opening, or better yet, mind-bending article in this series, 85-year-old Bob Lutz, ex-vice chairman of General Motors, car guy eminence and science fiction enthusiast bluntly announces: "We are approaching the end of the line for the automobile."
Within 20 years "the human-driven automobile, its repair facilities, its dealerships ... will be gone," Lutz declares.
Auto brands will be no longer named Chevrolet, Ford or Toyota, he writes, but rather "Uber or Lyft or whoever else is competing in the market."
(And, yes, he predicts Automotive News will disappear, too.)
You could argue with Lutz (and you wouldn't be the first), but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone with better credentials for calculating the future of all things automotive.
He is almost certainly correct that the global auto industry is on the brink of technological change that will prove revolutionary, accelerating, disruptive and permanent. And he is correct in noting that it is unclear whether auto manufacturers and other traditional industry institutions will master that change — or be mastered by it.
What's clear is that emerging technology will lead to limited and ultimately fully self-driving vehicles. Mass-market electrified vehicles, including hybrids, also are gaining ground rapidly. So-called connected cars and mobility services such as onboard navigation and entertainment are redefining the industry.
These trends, says management consulting firm McKinsey and Co., "will reinforce and accelerate each other." The auto industry, it adds, "is ripe for disruption."
Such developments are forcing the realization among automakers and retailers that in a relatively few years, their primary business model may no longer be selling, financing and repairing cars and trucks.
Rather, they could be part of a broader industry that intends to sell safe, pleasant and productive rides to consumers who demand them, on their cellphones and other mobile devices, one at a time.
And perhaps the traditional industry players will not take the dominant part, as new-economy companies such as Google, Apple, Uber and Tesla — as well as growing Chinese automakers — stake their claims to the future marketplace.