Are Tesla, Google, Apple, Atieva, Faraday F. all wrong?
Aug 25, 2015
A 'next-generation personal transportation device' ought to incorporate more environmental considerations than zero emissions. Lose the car's self-serving nature, for instance. If Apple, which is feverishly recruiting people from the auto industry, fails to think outside the (car) box, another company should.
Car hasn't changed
Traffic has. So has people’s attitude towards ‘hooking up’ with each other, mainly because of social media. There's something strange about what Apple VP Jeff Williams calls the "ultimate mobile device", the car. Typically as wide as the average driver measures in length, it's clogging up 'arteries', which puts a damper on our mobility. Traffic means inching forward while lying across. 95% of the energy is used to move around the 'device' that's supposed to move us.
The industry's response
The car industry's response can be best described as "We don't do personal mobility! We're in the business of making and selling cars. Gridlock? That's not our responsibility". TNCs like Uber turn car owners into cab drivers. Google has put its hopes on robotized, shared-use Smart ForTwo-like pods. Tesla says it plans to make its high-end electric behemoths available through shared mobility programs. But that will automatically affect sales and jeopardize Elon Musk's goal to hit break-even by 2020. The more Teslas will be shared, the less will be owner-bought. Apple we don't know yet. Rumor has it that a SUV-like vehicle is being developed, a platform for Apple's connectivity technology, which would belie Steve Jobs' philosophy to reinvent products from the ground up.
What about a new 'format' capable of addressing ALL issues?
I think that autonomous drive and car/ride sharing, meant to make car use more efficient, bring about the desire for a new type of vehicle, a new transportation mode, some might say new 'format'. We should at least be offered a choice. Such a vehicle has the potential to demote, even replace your daily driver. Most of the times, the driver is the car's only occupant and doesn't need the extra bulk that only hampers mobility (incl. finding a parking spot). If 'properly formatted' it will be better suited (sleeker to begin with) to auto-drive than any car incl. Google's own two-seater. Governments will love the prospect of having the infrastructure used more efficiently. A new type of vehicle may stir the same sort of excitement as Apple did when it introduced its sleek designer wannahave, the iPhone. Attract young people who aren't drawn to the car because of its self-serving and cumbersome nature.
Investment ~ Time to transcend
Venture capitalists descend upon the market of new and social media and all sorts of related apps, accepting no profits will be made for years to come. I call it the market of the non- or not so tangible. They tend to overlook the obvious, things that 'matter'. As long as we are not able to "beam me up, Scotty" from A to B, we will need some sort of transportation device. No wonder the car still is the most important consumer product by far. If 'properly formatted', such a new vehicle may rival (local) public transport when it comes to financial as well as environmental costs per mile and, obviously, in point-to-point mobility when used in a shared capacity. Perhaps complement. Like I wrote before, when occupancy rate is high, public transport is efficient. But a bus' or tram's standard bulk and weight do form a serious handicap at hours when demand is less.
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