It's hardly a secret that the auto industry is undergoing an enormous, tectonic shift in the way it thinks, builds cars and does business. Between alternative forms of energy, a renewed focus on low curb weights and aerodynamic bodies, the advent of driverless and autonomous cars and the need to reduce the our impact on the environment, it's very likely that the car that's built 10 years down the line will be scarcely recognizable when parked next to the car from 10 years ago.
Few people are as able to explain the industry's many upcoming changes and challenges as clearly as William Clay Ford, Jr., better known as Bill Ford. The 57-year-old currently sits as the executive chairman of the company his great-grandfather, Henry Ford, founded over 110 years ago.
In an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Ford explains that the role of automakers is, necessarily, going to change to suit the needs of the future world. That means changing the view of not just the automobile, but the automaker. As Ford explains it, automakers will "move from being just car and truck manufacturers to become personal-mobility companies."
That's going to mean building cars that are better integrated with the transport system, which of course, means increased connectivity. That seems to be Ford's biggest point here – the analog days of motoring are dead and waiting to be buried, as we prepare for a world where our cars talk to each other and the world around us, all in a bid to improve the life of the driver, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and those on public transport. Other big changes are more predictable – expanded use of aluminum, high-strength steel and carbon fiber as part of a push towards increased fuel efficiency are also part of Ford's vision of our automotive future.
In all, Ford's op-ed provides a fascinating look at what one of the industry's biggest names thinks of the automobile's future, with a particular focus on how it will affect you and I as the world continues to change, evolve and grow. The entire piece is available at The Wall Street Journal's site, and is a highly recommended read.