Friday, August 21, 2015

Product of the future: This is not your grandfather’s car

An example to illustrate the points I make in my essay on the product of the future: 

The car of the future will still have wheels and be designed to bring passengers from A to B - but almost everything else about it will be different.

Cars are the classic industrial product. Ford’s enormous factories took in steel and rubber at one end, and spit out millions of identical cars at the other end of the production line.
The car of the future can be individually configured in great detail. Already, many car companies provide online tools that enable the customer to specify exactly what color, engine and trim the car shall be equipped with. The next generations of cars will be electronic and controlled by computers so they can re-programmed through apps and updates to the operating systems – it could be for changing the car’s sound, the interior lighting or its driving characteristics. Tesla, for example, recently released a new OS that makes the car able to automatically park and to stay within highway lanes.

The cost of developing and producing the car will increasingly be linked to electronics and software. Navigation, surveillance, coordinating with other cars and traffic systems, entertainment and information to passengers ... No longer are steel and rubber the main expenditure.
The electronic part of the car’s functionality is also where development moves fast - if not exponentially – along with more powerful computers, big data and artificial intelligence.

The car of the future will be constantly connected to the surrounding traffic. It will exchange observations about its position and the traffic conditions. Initially, this will make it easier to manage traffic, avoid traffic jams and find parking spaces, but as the car becomes increasingly automated and self-driving it will need to tightly coordinate with the cars around it.

Today, most cars are personally owned, but a growing number of people use car- or ride-sharing services, or they lease the car. When vehicles become autonomous, it will be a relief for many not to own a car. You will be able to book a car to pick you up, get you to your destination – and then take off to help other passengers. When the car is part of a pool of cars, the business model changes significantly. As does the relationship and attachment that many owners today have towards their car.

Finally, the car is increasingly just one of a number of elements that can be combined to provide a mobility solution. The exact combination of car, train, bicycle or busses, which best solves a person's needs in a specific situation can be composed for the occasion. It is the mobility solution, not the car, which the user pays for.

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