I was talking to a friend recently, and he commented on just how much the automobile industry is changing and how rapidly.
It doesn't seem that long ago — though it was — when most of us could understand what was going on in the automobile world.
We did not have to be rocket scientists to see how the car worked or, more importantly, how the car business worked.
It has been quite a while since it was that simple.
First, we have a huge proliferation of models to choose from. Not too long ago, it was a few cars; today, it is lots of vehicles — and not that many of them are cars at all. Consumers are voting with their pocketbooks, and they want pickups, SUVs and crossovers.
Not only do automakers and dealers need to keep shoppers happy with all those big vehicles, they also need to satisfy the feds. U.S. emissions laws have always been complicated, but a slew of new rules are coming from all corners of the world, adding layers of complexity to the industry, in the hope of cleaning the air and slowing climate change.
What is being planned for the future should scare the pants off anyone who has anything to do with the car business.
In addition, we all need to start getting ready for an onslaught of vehicles from China. Once Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping get tariffs settled — and they will — we are going to see a huge number of vehicles from China in all shapes, sizes and colors. Mainly gasoline-burning, but with just enough alternative-powered vehicles to really mess with the market.
You might say that this will be an exciting time, and it may well be. But rest assured, it will be very disruptive for an industry that simply is not used to rapid change.
Make no mistake: As my friend mentioned — echoing words from the likes of Mary Barra and Bill Ford — he had never seen things changing quite as rapidly as they are these days.
I have no doubt that we will see dealers changing as quickly as their customers, but that doesn't mean it will be easy.
It is just one more time when you might as well buckle up and enjoy the ride.