The number of vehicles on the road is growing while the surface of the earth, naturally, is not. As a result, we need to act to avoid overcrowding on the roads and that's where the mobile industry comes in.

In the past 100 years we have gone from zero to 1 billion motorised vehicles in the world, Stephen Odell, Ford Motor Company's EMEA president, told conference attendees at Mobile World Congress earlier this week. That number will grow to between 2 billion and 4 billion by 2050, he predicted.

"If we do nothing we could end up with global gridlock," he warned.

The problem will be particularly serious in cities, he added. "We must all work together," to ease the tension and inefficiency of traffic jams, he said.

The new Ford Focus - launched at Mobile World Congress rather than at the Geneva Motor Show next week, Odell pointed out – comes equipped with an 8-inch touchscreen and voice-controlled applications, as well as a variety of system upgrades designed to make parking, city driving, and manoeuvring the car in general easier.

"Cars are the smartphones of the future," said Odell, referring to a piece he read in the Spanish press recently.

"There are many untapped opportunities for mobile to play a role in advanced automated driving," he added.

Collecting data and making it possible to share it in real time will lead to important developments in road safety and transport efficiency, Odell said, urging the mobile industry to "get more involved".

There are opportunities in providing hardware, software and network technology to serve "our shared customers," he told the audience. "We can't do it alone."