GOTHENBURG, Sweden — When Lucas Casasnovas looks into his crystal ball from his desk in Spain, he sees a murky image forming across Europe.
His peers an ocean away in the United States might want to take a few notes if they're trying to figure out where opportunity meets challenges.
Last year, Casasnovas was a newly minted director of global product marketing.
He noticed that Spaniards — young Spaniards — weren't buying cars.
The data was downright scary. So he had his team examine all of Europe for broader trends.
He didn't like what he saw.
"Young people are less and less interested in cars," he told our Automotive News Europe Congress audience here last week. "It is dropping year after year."
According to his figures, which were assembled by pan-European consultant partners for Seat, driver's licenses for those age 35 and under dropped 50 percent in the last 10 years.
That's 50, as in half as many.
Unbelievably, new-car buyers under 35 also dropped by half in the same span.
And the average age of first-time car buyers — for every European brand across the continent — jumped from 33 to 38 years old.
"In 10 years, perhaps there are no longer car buyers," Casasnovas told the crowd.
If that doesn't get the mind racing to a new solution, perhaps nothing will.
As in the United States, new-car buyers are being priced out of the market. Affordability is an enormous concern.
European salaries have stagnated over the last decade — and automakers are trying to figure out how they're going to make money a decade from now.
Seat, a Volkswagen Group sporty brand, is so jittery, it's embracing every kind of micromobility product imaginable — from kick scooters to bikes to microcars.
But this is no marketing play. Casasnovas is an engineer in a marketing function, tasked with solving the Rubik's Cube that is now Europe.
This is a continent in flux.
Automakers are chasing solutions for challenges created by others (governments) in a sea of uncertainty and hoping that the lines they are throwing out will catch some fish.
Many believe that carbon dioxide emissions targets are unattainable in the next few years. That's triggered a mad dash to electrics.
Cities are clamping down on congestion. In central London, drivers of cars and vans can pay as much as £24 (roughly $30) to enter the city center — every day.
Margins are under pressure, as they are in the United States. German factories, handcuffed by labor contracts, are overproducing in order to keep running.
Executives here say the murky matters of Brexit have a region paralyzed and increasingly nationalistic. And that, they argue, is hampering the free-market economy.
"Comets are headed this way," Patrik Illerstig, CEO of Care by Volvo, told a pre-Congress session. "We see changing consumer behavior, and with regulations there are huge changes on the way. Companies are going to have to dig down or do something about it."
Overregulation, overproduction and a shifting landscape of buyers who can't afford the SUVs that are rolling off assembly lines en masse.
Some brands (Volkswagen) are going all-in on electrics — for buyers who might not want them in regions where subsidies support them. Others see the future in shared platforms with the likes of Uber.
Casasnovas, meanwhile, sits at his desk in Spain and imagines a world of Seat kick scooters.
"If we don't go into this business, someone will," he says. "It's about survival."
Keep an eye on Europe. The Old World is looking for a new model.