In terms of human history, the car is a recent invention. So why have many started referring to the auto industry as an ‘old’ industry?
Will the combination of new smartphone capabilities, popular ridesharing technologies, and a trend toward increasingly crowded urban living really lead to “the end of car culture?” That notion couldn’t be further from the truth.
The auto industry is on the cusp of what could be revolutionary change. ‘Traditional’ car companies are invigorated by new technologies, and thriving as they work to develop and advance these technologies in ways that meet and exceed consumers changing preferences. As rapidly evolving technologies give us the tools to reinvent modern transportation, it creates a feeling of excitement – and also one of seemingly endless curiosity. The industry is undergoing a transformation that is causing us to reevaluate some of the most basic concepts surrounding the automobile:
Who’s driving the car?
Semi-autonomous vehicles are on the road today, and fully autonomous vehicles are no longer a distant possibility. Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications promise to revolutionize auto safety.
Who owns the car?
Ride-sharing and ownership-sharing arrangements have emerged, and both start-ups and established manufacturers are exploring new arrangements and agreements.
What’s powering the car?
There are more powertrain options than ever - gasoline-powered internal combustion engines, gas-electric hybrids, fully electric plug-in vehicles, fuel cell vehicles – all in the quest for greater efficiency and lower emissions.
Who/What is a car company?
Traditional manufacturers have been joined by Apple, Google and other technology firms, who have moved beyond simply offering entertainment systems to creating operating systems and possibly even their own cars.
What does the consumer want?
Consumers want cleaner, safer, more efficient and convenient transportation options, with all of the entertainment and information systems available today. The modern consumer wants to stay ‘connected’ as they travel.
How will we give consumers what they want?
Policymakers will play a role in establishing regulatory requirements, but the pace of innovation and change is moving faster than the ability of legislators and regulators to respond. We’ve already seen that innovators aren’t going to wait for regulation to offer consumers better products. New models, approaches and adaptability, on behalf of both the company and the government, is key.
The history of the automobile is a history of economic and social mobility. Even as the industry undergoes a fundamental transformation, that foundation will not change. This perseverance and change, along with the questions mentioned above, will fuel the dialogue in The Auto Motive as we move forward.
We hope you join us for the ride.
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