Predictions and possibilities
“For dealers, a realistic view of what the world will look like has got to be part of the discussion. The timing [for 100 percent autonomous vehicles] is questionable but the inevitability is fairly certain. What should a dealer do? In the current economic cycle … the next several years probably aren’t going to be comparable to the last several. Back that with the transformational stuff and you could argue that a dealership is never going to be worth more than it is today. But [if you sell] what will you do with the money to make the return that you might otherwise make in the remaining viable years of the retail industry?”
Dale Pollak, founder of vAuto Inc., now part of Cox Automotive, where Pollak is a vice president
“I have friends who are economists, and they tell me, the moment you start to forecast where everything’s moving, you’re gonna be wrong. And the question is, how wrong or how right are you going to be? [But] when I look at the future trends, electrification’s a reality, no matter what market you look at. If you look at the changes in emissions regulations in countries like Korea and China, they’ve accelerated at a much faster rate than they ever did here in North America or in Europe. So we’re going to have to electrify.”
Larry Dominique, CEO, PSA North America
Carla Bailo, a mobility expert and former executive at Nissan North America, is taking over as CEO of the Center for Automotive Research in December.
“Product development cycle is going to be totally disrupted. The five-year cycle that we have today is going to be become 18 months to two years. So how are you going to change the entire way the company operates to manage this shorter life cycle? How are you going to change the way you design the vehicles? And what’s your new brand identity gonna be? In the world of autonomy, nobody’s going to care about the pleasure of driving anymore.”
“The instrument cluster, human-machine interface, that’s all going to be done over the air. People want the same update in their vehicle that they get in their cellphone or in their computer. They’re not going to put up with waiting for a minor model change or the next model year. They’ll want it fixed now because the technology exists.
“And even though people may not want to own a vehicle in the future, they still want that vehicle ... to be personalized for them. Think about inserts in seat fabric to be able to make it pink for this customer or blue for this customer, or even cars that can change the color themselves by lighting because we know what this customer prefers. Those kinds of innovations will come from the suppliers.
“One of the interesting things is when we put millions of miles on vehicles very, very quickly, obsolescence is going to happen quickly — kind of like our cellphones today. So how will we make that product much more recyclable than it is today? Think of a Lego-type system. What can I pull out and replace?”
Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov anticipated autonomous vehicles in his 1953 short story "Sally."
“I can remember when there wasn’t an automobile in the world with brains enough to find its own way home. I chauffeured dead lumps of machines that needed a man’s hand at their controls every minute. Every year machines like that used to kill tens of thousands of people.
“The automatics fixed that. A positronic brain can react much faster than a human one, of course. ... You got in, punched your destination and let it go its own way.
“We take it for granted now, but I remember when the first laws came out forcing the old machines off the highways and limiting travel to automatics. Lord, what a fuss. They called it everything from communism to fascism, but it emptied the highways and stopped the killing, and still more people get around more easily the new way.
“Of course, the automatics were ten to a hundred times as expensive as the hand-driven ones, and there weren’t many that could afford a private vehicle. ... You could always call a company and have one stop at your door in a matter of minutes and take you where you wanted to go. Usually, you had to drive with others who were going your way, but what’s wrong with that?”
“We’re all living longer. And as any of us who’ve had a parent we’ve had to take the car keys away from [is aware], mobility for an aging society is becoming critical. I see that as a huge opportunity, huge business potential for autonomy — keeping a society mobile that perhaps doesn’t have the ability to be mobile today.”
Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America
“You can purchase a coffee maker for relatively low cost, but the business model is such that the company earns money through the little cups that go into the equipment — like printers, like copiers; it has this ongoing pay-per-copy, pay-per-view, pay-per-use business model. And this model, translated into the automotive world, is something that comes more natural to some of these new mobility players out in the West Coast than it comes to the carmakers that have been making money by developing and manufacturing cars and selling them to consumers.
“These new mobility players ... are not handcuffed by a hundred years of history of developing and manufacturing cars.”
Han Hendriks, chief technology officer, Yanfeng
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