The global car industry is seeing huge levels of innovation.

Such is the pace of change that Elon Musk’s electric car producer Tesla is now worth more than Ford, arguably the most successful vehicle producer of all time. The Unite union is even urging Ford to convert its UK engine plants to making electric cars and battery technology, in an attempt to secure their future.

When it comes to creating electric and autonomous vehicles, most major auto manufacturers are thinking long term.

Toyota, for example, recognises the value of investing a billion dollars in this space because much of the technology can also be used in household gadgets for the elderly. Given Japan’s rapidly ageing population, such innovation addresses investors’ desire to see a pipeline for potential value creation in the future.

It also offers an example of a social good that can result from committing significant resources to innovation. The technology being developed for autonomous vehicles may also be the catalyst for other innovations – that might in turn deliver more benefits to society.

The crucial aspect of what the carmakers are doing is the willingness to adapt the business model. Driverless cars may never take off in a big way, but the carmakers betting on the technology are likely to prosper- perhaps having morphed into something completely different.