GOTHENBURG, Sweden — Volkswagen Group's Seat brand is rolling out a micromobility strategy to counteract the possible end of the traditional business model of the car industry, said Lucas Casasnovas, the automaker’s head of product marketing.
Seat has signed a deal with Spanish startup UFO to supply 530 scooters for a sharing service in Madrid. No official date has been given for the debut of the Minimo, which was shown in Barcelona.
The move into micro mobility is a must because the car industry is becoming "a luxury industry, not accessible for young people," Casasnovas told the Automotive News Europe Congress here on Wednesday.
During his Congress presentation, Casasnovas offered some numbers about the European market, compiled by Sigma Eurosensor 2018.
- New driver’s licenses for people under age 35 have dropped by 50 percent in the past 10 years.
- Car sales to people under 35 also declined by half over the past decade.
- Car prices rose 30 percent in 10 years, partly because of new safety, connectivity and driving-assistance features.
- The average age when purchasing a first new car rose to 38 years from 33.
Behind this trend is the stagnation in salaries of people under age 25, flat at 1,000 euros per month for the past 10 years, Casasnovas said. Those under age 35 make less than 2,000 euros a month.
As a result, the average age of new-car buyers in the EU has risen to 56 years, he said.
The new business model, Casasnovas said, will enable Seat to offer mobility options to these people.
"If we don’t, someone else will do it," he said. "I’m not referring to Uber and Lyft, which still buy cars, but to such players as Lime or Byrd. Those companies rent scooters."
This is a huge business opportunity that the auto industry is leaving to somebody else, Casasnovas said — an opportunity that is growing 20 percent a year and will continue to do so for at least five years.
Seat will offer micro mobility products through its dealers, online and through sharing services. Its customers also could include fleets such as sales forces.
Seat will need partners, Casasnovas said, because it lacks the agility and cost structure to develop such products.