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Automakers are hiring software engineers to develop new-mobility offerings (Photo: BMW)

Is 2017 going to be the year of electric mobility? Will this be the year that autonomous vehicles take a decisive step toward roadworthiness? And will this be the year that automakers convince skeptics that they - rather than the tech industry are driving the transformation in personal mobility?

Or will 2017 be the year that cybercrime puts a serious dent in the Internet-of-Things timetable? Will auto manufacturers, with their heavy dependence on traditional business, fail to come up with a viable plan for new mobility? And will the geopolitical uncertainties that follow the election of US President-elect Donald Trump trigger a phase of global economic uncertainty that will slow down the ambitious plans of the global auto industry?

There’s no simple answer to any of these questions, but there are several reasons to regard 2017 with a degree of optimism.

Electric vehicles look set to get a boost from three factors:1. New and better cars with more range are coming.2. Automakers are beginning to pull together to work on the necessary battery charging infrastructure.3. Governments are offering targeted EV incentives that will make buying and owning the vehicles more attractive.

The autonomous-driving trend is also likely to accelerate next year. The technologies required are improving in leaps and bounds. Hardly a day goes by without another pilot project being announced.

And the auto industry is asserting itself as a formidable new-tech player, hiring 1,000s of software engi-neers, forging cooperations with startups and diving headlong into new-mobility businesses.

True, there are dangers lurking everywhere too. Digital crime is undermining people’s confidence in connected and cloud- based technologies. No car company is making money with all the new mobility initiatives ”“ yet. Newcomers such as Uber and Tesla are being heralded as the true automotive innovators. And the Trump factor adds to general worries over the unpredictability of geopolitics.

As we enter the new year, one thing is clear: Automotive companies have accepted that their “old” business is going away and that they have to adapt or die. The change process will speed up in 2017.

Screen-Shot-2016-12-31-at-8.19.46-AM. Arjen Bongard is editor-in-chief of automotiveIT International

This will offer a whole new range of business opportunities for automakers and IT companies alike. Cloud-based services, big data analysis, information-security software, sensor systems, autonomous-driving platforms, battery-charging networks. Those are just a few of the areas where companies in the automotive space can make money. Tomorrow’s car industry will be different, but it won’t be short of opportunity.

We wish you a restful holiday season and a very good start in 2017!

Arjen Bongard