Retired automotive icon, now independent consultant, Bob Lutz, calls the autonomous vehicle the “death of the auto industry as we know it.” Fortunately for him, it will be awhile before it comes to be. Lutz says:
“That whole system, I’m convinced, is 30 years away. Probably the biggest chance we have of this not happening is a lack of sufficient prosperity to bring it about. Which is an alternative none of us likes.”
He points out that the government will need to be heavily involved. The whole process will cost a substantial amount of money. Every car will likely be required to have a transponder, just like airplanes.
Lutz believes that when we get to the point that there are fully autonomous modules providing standardized, dial-up transportation, brands won’t matter:
“What is the reason for being in a BMW module or a Mercedes module? Especially since you get a different one every time you dial it up on your device? For automakers, that’s the scary part.”
In major cities especially, it’s not likely that people will want to own cars. Traffic is worse and worse, roads can’t be built or widened any faster or any more. With the huge popularity of Uber, people are already growing accustomed to a similar system. The only difference will be “no drivers”.
Competition to build the most aesthetically appealing or unrivaled performance vehicle won’t exist. Lutz explains:
“Back then . . . It was still up to the leaders of the automobile industry to provide a more attractive car than the competition, whatever the scenario. But in a situation where the brand motive for purchase goes away and the perceived performance motive goes away? Boy, that’s a tough one.”
Lutz doesn’t think that the automobile in its current form will go away. Rather, it will be for sporting purposes, instead of necessity:
“Independent driving will become the equivalent of going to an upmarket horse event on a weekend. At places like Monticello Motor Club in New York and Autobahn Country Club near Chicago, you can enjoy your car.”
In the end, convenience, time, and safety are on the top of the list for most people in our ever-changing, fast-paced world. Apple is looking to change the world for the better with its autonomous electric vehicle.
Something lost, something gained.