Of all the topics up for discussion at this year’s Global Automotive Forum in China, one keeps coming back to the fore: connectivity.

It’s of little surprise, given that China wants to ‘leapfrog’ the West to become a dominant manufacturing superpower by 2025, and to do that, it needs to be building the sort of smart, connected vehicles that buyers both at home and abroad will want to own.

Research presented at the forum shows that while 25% of  ‘Generation Y’ could live without a car, 75% couldn’t live without mobile connectivity. Unsurprising, then, that 89% of new vehicles are predicted to be connected by 2019.

The trouble, Link Motion boss Pasi Nieminen told delegates here, is that China’s automotive industry has been slow to wake up to the benefits of connected vehicles. “Stop thinking in the traditional way,” he told the conference. “Stop thinking about instrument clusters and ECUs. Start thinking about computers.”