There is an awful lot going on in the automobile business these days. So much, in fact, that no one really has a good idea of what lies ahead for manufacturers, suppliers and dealers.
To say the future is cloudy is an understatement. For example, I don't think anyone knows exactly how electrification of cars and trucks will play out — if there is indeed a future at all for electrification.
There are plenty of executives around the world who are betting their companies and their own reputations on the growth of electric vehicles in the short term. Most are relying on a big shove from governments around the world to help them out. Indeed, the success of EVs will probably require massive amounts of government interference. Yet the U.S. Congress nearly eliminated tax incentives for electrics at a time when most electric vehicle proponents are looking for more incentives, not fewer.
Batteries will be the big issue in the future for EVs. We still don't have the range problem solved.
No doubt you'll see lots of electric cars on display next week at the Detroit auto show. There will be plenty of autonomous vehicles as well, with no shortage of predictions about when we will see driverless vehicles on our streets.
Along with those executives touting electric vehicles, another equally large group is betting their careers on self-driving cars, regardless of whether the motoring public is ready for them.
If all that new technology and technology talk at the show bores you, don't worry. I am sure we'll see a bunch of great and exciting cars from several brands in Detroit. And there will be plenty of trucks and SUVs to whet the appetites of customers, new and old.
It is a show that is worth your time and money. Whether you are making parts or selling and servicing vehicles, you are going to get a glimpse of the future. No one may know what exactly lies in store for this industry, but all the ingredients will be in Detroit. It is a place you will want to be. No simple answers but lots of hints.