Currently reading: Global automotive market must prepare for 'fundamental shift'
Former Tata boss says car manufacturers and suppliers must up their game or face losing out to new brands

The worldwide automotive industry must adapt and shift its focus to serve a new generation of consumers, or face danger from new global players, former Tata CEO Dr. V Sumantran has warned.

Speaking at the Global Automotive Forum in China, Sumantran – who is credited with developing the Tata Nano – said the emerging new generation of consumers expect more from their cars than ever before.

“We have to recognise the fundamental shift in the minds of consumers," he said. "Consumers want mobility. Today we have different choices of mobility.

“This is going to fundamentally change how we think. This is more than selling cars, trucks and buses.

“To be ready for a culture and generation that is now looking for a vastly expanded model of connecting together means that there are going to be fundamental changes for the auto industry.

“We are going to have to deliver cars that are intelligent, cars that have apps for driving, vehicles that will talk to each other and indeed vehicles that will talk to you as a person. This kind of connectivity must be plugged into the car – future generations will demand this.

“If we do not change I think the industry as we know it will be in danger.”

As well as the finished product changing, Sumantran also said that the rise of new players in the automotive industry could threaten the traditional automotive supply chain.

“As we go forward the supply chain will be turned on its head,” he told the conference. “Already we are seeing Apple with Carplay and Google with Android Auto deliver auto mobility. They will potentially start to displace the traditional place of the OEMs.

“If we as OEM brands thought we had a special relationship with our consumers, that relationship will now be in competition.”

Dr. Sumantran also noted the shift in focus away from established markets such as the US and Europe and towards new markets: “The whole world recognises that the auto industry has taken a tilt Eastwards.

“Growth markets for the auto industry are in the East, and as a result we are beginning to see the proportionate attention, investment and focus on consumers there.”

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