Ford and Volvo try to woo younger buyers at Spanish tech show 0

To attract the younger, millennial generations car makers have realised they have to switch lanes and bypass some of the tech world’s traffic.

Following a growing trend of carmakers showcasing their latest models and software at tech shows, Ford and Volvo made appearances at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week.

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Giants of the automobile industry are becoming a regular fixture at tech shows as they seek to win over the millennial crowd who care more about the perfect selfie angles than navigating the angles of an open road. The pivot toward the younger set comes amid competition from Tesla Motors and the sudden ubiquity in services such as Uber that have left car makers worried about the sustainability of their industry and eager to branch out into new implementing digital products and software into their cars.

Their concerns are not unwarranted. Cars are not immune to the tech boom, and according to IHS Automotive over 345 million vehicles worldwide will be connected to the internet by 2022, nearly four times more than the figure polled last year. The biggest risk posed for carmakers is that Apple, Google and Microsoft are looking to conquer the integrated tech and car business themselves, capitalising on the popular software and advanced operating systems they already have perfected. Google and Apple already provide in-car infotainment systems with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Google is one of the leading innovators in developing autonomous cars.

Richard Viereckl, an analyst at PwC in Frankfurt who carried out a study on connected cars, said: “Carmakers have a very narrow window of opportunity to win over Generation Y. They are at these technology shows to portray their brands as hip, and with mounting competition from the likes of Apple, Panasonic and Sony, they’re fighting to keep the attention of and access to their customers.”

There is a beautiful irony that the car industry now finds itself in the position of the horse and carriage, the same industry/system that cars themselves came and disrupted all those years ago. If there is a lesson to be learnt, it’s that history tends to repeat itself and you have to keep that foot on the pedal to ensure you don’t become just a thing of the past.