So many people are pontificating about how the world will look in the near future, when self-driving cars start making their way to the roads. If they stop for pedestrians, why would anyone ever wait for a safe time to cross the street? If the cars are shared, who's going to clean them? If they are always doing the speed limit, are drivers going to go insane?
One thing that often gets left out of the discussion is auto shows — what will they look like in the future? And are they changing fast enough?
Tuesday, during the Automotive News World Congress keynote speech, Ford CEO Jim Hackett pontificated on a wide range of topics, and he quickly touched on auto shows:
"The auto show as we know it is going to alter and mutate," he said. "Apple is not going to bring the 'Apple car' to the Detroit auto show. They're going to come at us in a way we didn't expect."
Our editorial team hit on this subject this week, talking about how auto shows need to reinvent themselves. Static cars sitting on turntables don't do enough to differentiate themselves from other static cars sitting on turntables. Consumers don't know the beauty of adaptive cruise control or the annoying quirks of some lane-keeping systems or the reassurance that comes from a good blind-spot detection system.
When vehicles drive themselves, consumers will need new ways to experience them. First, they will need to be convinced that these cars are safe and easy to ride in. They will want to know how it feels to be chauffeured in the car. They will want to experience the comfort of the interior.
There is a challenge in figuring out how to get huge masses of people to experience all of this. Maybe it isn't possible in an auto show setting. Maybe it's something better served as an Epcot-like ride. Or through smaller, grass-roots events.
But the industry needs to figure out a way to reach customers quickly, before an outsider figures it out first and does it better.
— Sharon Silke Carty