Monday, June 26, 2017

Revolutionary Upheaval in an Old Industry

Who's driving? And I thought getting rid of a clutch
was a big deal (Mercedes concept)
For most of its 100+ years as a mass-market industry, the automobile business was evolutionary--a little higher mileage, more safety, and less pollution every year on average--but now it's entered a revolutionary phase.

Technology has disrupted traditional ownership, use, and financing patterns. We may well be witnessing the end of mass car ownership.
Drivers, for instance, may no longer be drivers, relying instead on hailing a driverless car on demand, and if they do decide to buy, they will likely share the vehicle—by renting it out to other people when it isn’t in use.

Auto makers, meanwhile, already are looking for ways to sustain their business as fewer people make a long-term commitment to a car.
Other predictions: [bold added]
One-quarter of miles driven in the U.S. may be through shared, self-driving vehicles by 2030, according to an estimate by Boston Consulting Group.

Chief Executive Elon Musk has hinted that he’s preparing to create a network of Tesla owners that could rent out their self-driving cars to make money.

Autonomous vehicles could ultimately free up more than 250 million hours of consumers’ commuting time a year, unlocking a new so-called passenger economy.

the alcohol industry might see a rise in drinks consumed weekly with customers not having to worry about driving home.

...a vision of a car that replaces a vehicle’s windows with video screens that create a wraparound movie theater inside the cabin.

...“pods”—seats that can be adjusted to block a passenger from the view of the others—and there are areas in the vehicle that allow them to lock items while other people use the car.
When a product is experiencing rapid change it doesn't pay to own it if the cost reflects a life longer than three years. (An analog is real estate: if you plan to stay in an area at most for three years, you probably won't go through the expense and risk of buying and selling a house.)

We've owned all our vehicles since the early 1970's. In 2015 we leased our first car, will return it to the dealer instead of paying 67% of cost to buy it in 2018, then probably lease another one.

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