The fun is only beginning in the auto industry. We have come a long way from predictions in the past century. One of my favorite head scratchers of the past decade came from Scientific American, Jan. 2 edition, 1909 – “That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced.”
1909 Nagant Type D 14/16-HP. Photographed at the Louwman museum, The Netherlands.
Really? In 1909, cars had 16 horsepower and wood doors. Wouldn’t it be fun to go back in time with automobiles we have today!
In 1902, Thomas Edison predicted that gasoline engines were on their way out and battery powered vehicles were going to be the new power behind the automobile. He wasn’t wrong, but he was 110 years early with his prediction.
Technology is changing and developing by the minute. You don’t have to be Thomas Edison to see that. But, where could the automobile industry be going from here? Besides the fact that I think we will see flying cars for real, I do believe we will see a lot less autos on the road in the next 20 years. Yes, I said less.
Think about it for a moment…for the past 75+ years, car ownership has been a very personal and individual purchase. People buy cars because of styling, fuel economy, safety rating, etc. But now, they are sitting in those cars for hours on end in traffic. Don’t get me wrong, I love my car, but can think of better things to do with my time than sit for 2 hours a day in it. We live in a technology age, and one of the biggest pain points that consumers have is time efficiency.
Consumers are finding ways to stay out of the hellish commute they endure, and forward thinking, ahead of the curve, businesses are planning for the culmination that is ensuing. In many articles, auto manufacturers are promising fully autonomous vehicles by 2019. This in itself will be a complete game changer, but doesn’t necessarily equal less car sales.
When these cars are released, it appears that systems are in place that will allow consumers to ‘call up’ a car on an app that will drive directly to their location and take them to their destination. These cars can pick up multiple people on a route and will most likely be owned by fleet owners, not direct consumers.
Am I making your nervous yet? Well, never fear. I think car sales will actually increase as a result. Here’s why: cars have an obsolescence. They will only go so far, for so long. If an autonomous fleet vehicle is running 24/7, 365 days a year, how long do you think it will take to wear it out? A car could easily average 1,000 miles per day. In my estimation, these units could be out of service permanently in 6-7 months, having in upwards of 200,000 miles on them. Can you imagine what that could do for the auto industry if a fleet owner is replacing his fleet every 6 months? I think it’s time to celebrate!
Sorry 1909, I don’t think we’ve even hit the tip of the iceberg of automobile development.
Written By: Mari Campuzano