Should we all be worried, or is there a plan to fight back?
This is not the first time an automotive executive has voiced this, and it certainly won’t be the last. Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer, speaking at the recent Automotive News Europe Congress, had words regarding the future of the industry and car enthusiasts should take note. Palmer, who has been in the business for four decades, is clearly in a position to see things how they are, and what might happen. “For a long time, the business model has been stack 'em high and sell 'em cheap,” he said.
“But profitless volume is no way to build a sustainable company. It makes no sense to spend 1 billion (euros) on a new car and discount it almost at launch.” Along with current Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, Palmer believes automakers need to not only stop spending billions on making almost identical products, but to consolidate to help save money. “In our industry there are too many capital junkies spending billions and getting too little return for it,” Palmer said. Perhaps even more concerning is Palmer’s outlook on how autonomous and electric vehicle technologies will affect the industry as a whole, specifically as they combine to further encourage ride-sharing.
“We risk moving toward commoditization of a pod,” he said. “The world does not need dozens of nameplates making the same objects. There are more than 75 automotive nameplates in Europe, but just four plane makers.” On a brighter note, Palmer firmly believes “a different business model” is desperately needed that can capitalize on certain customers’ demands to own exotic and emotional cars built by a company with a strong brand. “People are still looking for emotion in their motion and that's where the luxury manufacturers sit, and where Aston Martin is flourishing,” he said.
Given his comments, let’s hope the future of Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, and all other exotic brands, figures out that new business model. We know no one here wants to live in an self-driving, EV pod hailing world.