The Self-Driving Car and the Auto Industry
Random thinking — what happens when you have a self-driving car? When everyone does? We would all go the same speed. We would basically be in buses that have more flexible routes. What happens then to the auto industry in this scenario? Will you be taking out three year leases on your self-driving car? Why is it you and everyone else updates your cars every few years now (and I know there’s all sorts of sane financial answers that state “you shouldn’t, that’s just dumb” but humor me)? To have the fastest car? Improved handling? The best interior or UI or features? The most prestige? Would this matter at all if you’ve just got a personal bus with driver parked out in your garage? What would be the point of constantly updating your driven-by-computer bus?
More likely your car upgrades will be to have italian leather in your seats and a bigger screen like your living room. Premier sound system perhaps? How often then do you replace or have reupholstered your sofas at home? Or your home audio equipment?
Upgrades are more likely to be to the software of the car. Costs are more likely to be related to the web services you subscribe to for your car (though really, you should just have it all running through your personal network device… we call them phones now but it’s already a gross misnomer).
So then what happens to the auto industry? Throw in electric cars — fewer moving parts, longer life — and the question is even more relevant. Someone still needs to build these cars, but what would differentiate them enough that we’d want to buy a new one every few years? It may just be that the technology in them advances rapidly enough making the cost of ownership lower (more efficient batteries and engines? revolutionary jump in wheel and brake technology?), but I can’t imagine it would be as it is now: car as status symbol.
Back to work.