IN FUTURE, motorists may no longer have complete freedom to use their purchases. In this future market, carmakers and technology suppliers will have very different roles from car retailers.
Essentially, while legislators may push to diminish levels of personal mobility on environmental grounds, dealers will help users to maximize personal mobility in whatever way they can.
What is overlooked in the excitement about new concepts such as the Smart city car, is that they are highly focused towards one type of driving. By definition, the owner - or driver - of a Smart car will require access to other types of cars for long distance travel, for journeys into remote areas where there is no public transport provision, and for holidays. Therefore the Smart will be an incremental vehicle for most people - and another profit opportunity for the new generation of retailer.
But there will be many consumers who don't want to take on the financial burden of owning another vehicle. The advent of new generations of specialist cars - and essentially, this is what a Smart car is - will accelerate the rethinking of car ownership that is already well under way in developed markets.
Many consumers are now finding that some form of leasing is a very attractive way of acquiring personal transport. Using a car is being seen as a fixed cost, to be budgeted for on a monthly or annual basis, not an investment.
A lease, or a personal contract purchase arrangement, removes the uncertainty about depreciation and provides known running costs if it is linked with some form of service agreement.
It is a logical next step to consider how a motorist's monthly service payment to a retailer could provide a wider range of services than just access to one car. It could provide the opportunity to have a permanent use of a Smart car, not necessarily to own one.
Dealers could have a pool of Smart-type cars available for customers operating one of their larger cars. Customers may opt to use a Smart only two days a week as a result of increasing home working.
This type of bundling arrangement would be particularly attractive for promoting electric vehicles, with their effective range remaining limited for the foreseeable future.
Growing consumer experience with 'differentiated' mobility provision - vehicles matched exactly to their particular journey needs - would, over time, lead to reconsideration of the need for any personal vehicles at all.
There are a growing number of car cooperative schemes developing, particularly in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia, where drivers do not own cars at all, but have access to a jointly owned and managed vehicle pool.
Using a token, or points, system, vehicles can be allocated and premiums placed on the most popular times.
It is not too far-fetched to imagine that more European city dwellers will, in the future, have their mobility needs met in this way.
The use of a Smart car could be combined with access to a city center parking space, laid out so that only Smart vehicles can use it.
Traffic information services and integrated provision with other transport systems would also be a great consumer benefit.
Of course dealers will not do this on their own.
New partnerships will be developed to supply different elements of the package. Finance companies will have a key role, as will telematics providers. Logistics companies will also be needed to move pools of vehicles to meet the journey needs of the new cooperative users.