Good evening and welcome to the 9th Motor Finance Europe Conference & Awards, 2023.  

Ladies and gentlemen, or should I say, petrolheads and electric car aficionados, I’ll be your host for the next 40 minutes or so as we hand out awards for those companies and individuals who excel in the world of motor finance – not the people who devise and make the fancy cars, but the financial brains and their accomplices across Europe who make it all possible.

Speaking of electric cars, in 2015 the boss of Mercedes-Benz – Dieter Zetsche – described them as ‘smartphones on wheels.’ I guess that’s because there’s not a lot of German engineering going on under the hood.

In fact, electric cars have about as many moving parts as your average snow globe, which is quite a change from the 150 years of brainpower that went into creating the old-school, fossil-fuelled engines.

So, out with the old, and in with the new! We’re swapping the ICE (that’s Internal Combustion Engine) for the EV (Electric Vehicle) – it’s like trading in your granddad’s Nokia for the latest iPhone. The only difference? The smartphone here is powered by a lithium-ion battery, and it just happens to have wheels and a speedometer!

But you might wonder, what’s financing got to do with all this? Well, it turns out, it’s not the fancy gizmos under the EV hood that are turning heads; it’s the connection to the Cloud and the goldmine of data it holds. We’re talking about data from millions of drivers, 24/7 – where they’re going, how fast they’re driving, their choice of tunes, and even what secrets they’re spilling in their car chats with Alexa, Siri or other such ‘virtual assistance’. Yes, really.

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So, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not the ‘iPhone on wheels’ that’s going to drive future profits. It’s the data – the treasure chest of information that’s worth its weight in gold.

But, oh dear, Europe is lacking its own car Cloud gurus. There’s no Elon Musk here or Chinese Communist Party-backed BYD ready to transform car data into riches. Alas, we’ll just have to hope that someday, Europe will have its own car data geniuses, but perhaps nothing like Elon Musk or the CCP.