SE Vehicles

'iPhone anniversary' - Is there a lesson to be learned?

Jan 11, 2017

This week Steve Jobs’ legendary Apple product was introduced 10 years ago. To say that it proved to be a game-changing, new 'product format' in the telecom/internet business is an understatement. Personal transportation needs a revolutionary, 'wanna-have device' too that is sleek, versatile, flexible and tool-like to use - particularly if it is supposed to benefit from self-driving technology. How would Jobs have introduced an "iPhone On Wheels"?

The trick of course is to avoid the notion of having a small car. People don't particularly like to drive a smaller version of something more substantial. The vehicle discussed in my blogs is meant to fill the gaping void, that is being overlooked by the industry, by presenting a Best of Both worlds - the safety and comfort of a car AND the flexibility and economy of a motor scooter. With its three-passenger capacity you might see it as some sort of hybrid auto-mobile, (click>) a sidecar motor scooter with the third seating position fully integrated in the hull.

Iconic cars can reincarnate... Or they can inspire to reinvent the car. Automakers see self-driving technology primarily as a way to prolong shelf life of the cars as we know them today. Robotics should actually challenge us to rethink 'auto-mobility' altogether.

An unmistakable trend towards less passengers per vehicle
Statistics regarding passenger vehicle occupancy are remarkably similar between the U.S. and the EU. The rate of car occupancy continues to decline, but at a slower rate than during the 1980's and 1990's. The data are limited to a few EU countries, but the trend is likely to be representative of the whole EU. The most recent data for the average number of passengers per car (driver incl.) for the countries sampled is approximately 1.45 passenger per vehicle (1.58 in the UK, 1.42 in Germany and 1.38 in the Netherlands). In 1977, the United States' average vehicle occupancy was 1.87 persons per vehicle. By 2013, average vehicle occupancy had decreased to 1.5 persons per vehicle. Possible reasons for this include the growing individualization of society, shrinking household sizes and the increase in car ownership. So, why would you want a big, cumbersome car that will get you stuck in traffic, if the average ride consists of one-and-a-half person? Particularly if there is so much to gain... "Dress to impress" I can understand. But "impress by being late" I don't.

Click:
Coming full circle with a new APPliance-like transportation mode
But there is more... People have been fantasizing of Flying Cars for ages

Ralph Panhuyzen, sevehicle@gmail.com

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