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Who will be the winners of the car industry?

The key question in the future of the car industry is if the dominant players will still be the producers of cars or, for example, the owners of digital platforms that link different modes of mobility. To make up their minds, they need to answer Theodore Levitt's famous strategic question 'what business are you really in?', which he first posed in his seminal 1960 HBR article 'Marketing Myopia'. In this article he warns for focusing too much on current needs of customers met by existing portfolios of products and services (which by definition are rooted in the past) instead of exploring newly emerging customer needs. Like the US railways in Levitt's article had better redefined themselves as transportation companies to compete successfully with fast-growing airlines, car producers have to broaden their purpose and definition of the business they are currently in. Neither the most innovative R&D nor the best marketing campagnes to sell the next generation of cars alone will bring them in the driver's seat in the future if they do not see and anticipate the bigger picture of the transition the car industry will go through in the next decades. Redefining themselves as mobility service providers is a huge step and yet may be too simple and not enough.


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