Tony O'Kane | Sep 24, 2009

A COMPREHENSIVE REPORT by international consultancy Deloitte predicts that the future automotive landscape will feature more streamlined production, more rapid adoption of new technologies, and a shift to electric vehicles.

Manufacturing operations will also become concentrated in lower production-cost countries such as China, India and Eastern Europe.

Development costs, environmental concerns and corporate restructuring will be the main issues for the world's automakers, while consumers will see more platform-sharing in new car line-ups.

Global platforms and cars will be adopted more widely by large automakers such as Toyota, General Motors and Ford, replacing myriad region-specific models and different chassis architectures.

Vehicles like the Holden Cruze represent the first wave of this new trend. Globally-developed and distributed vehicles will be able to recoup development costs quicker due to higher overall sales volumes.

The bulk of car manufacturing is also anticipated to move away from countries with high labour costs such as the USA, Japan and Germany, and migrate to emerging economies in China and India.

The report said that increased investment in production line technology will keep quality levels high, no matter the country of manufacture, and parts suppliers are expected to move overseas too.

According to Deloitte, new markets in developing countries will increase demand for new cars, with China and India to account for most of this new uptake.

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The emergence in both countries of a significant middle class should drive sales of private vehicles, and luxury vehicle sales in these markets are also expected to rise.

The report said that car buyers around the world - not just those in developed countries - will become more safety-conscious, and will also demand new high-tech devices in their cars.

Electric vehicles are expected to become prevalent over the next decade, however the high cost of EV battery packs and the continued availability of oil means uptake will be slow to start with.

According to the report, hybrids will be more popular than EVs, but beyond 2020 all-electric vehicles are predicted to be the urban commuter's conveyance of choice.

Alternative fuels like natural gas and ethanol will likely continue to be flirted with, the report said, but EVs are expected to become more mainstream than hydrocarbon fuels in the long term.

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