Expert Blog

The future of motoring in one blog post

We enjoy a spot of future-gazing on this website. Whether it’s the decline of diesel, the rise of electric, or the prospect of driverless, we’ve gazed there and blogged about it.

But rather than just linking to our own posts, I thought I’d highlight one from elsewhere. It’s by the tech businessman and guru, Benedict Evans, and is titled ‘Ways to think about cars’. And that’s really what it offers: some particularly perceptive ways to think about cars and where they’re headed. For instance, how the shift to electric could change not just how automobiles are made, but also who makes them:

‘…the shift to electric reduces the mechanical complexity of cars a great deal. No transmission or internal combustion engine means far fewer moving parts. That may also change the sophistication and capital required to design and build cars, which, in turn, may change who can build them and how they get built. Gear boxes and premium sports transmissions turn into software in the same way that electromechanical calculating machines or cameras got turned into software.”

How the rise of on-demand services could mean plainer cars:

‘It may make more sense for the cars themselves to be owned by someone with a big balance sheet - a GE Capital, if you like - that owns hundreds or thousands of cars with an optimised financial structure, rather than individual drivers getting their own leases. That in turn means that the cars get bought the way Hertz buys cars, or - critically - the way corporate PCs get bought. In this world what matters is ROI and a check-list of features, not flair, design, innovation or fit and finish.’

And how autonomous cars will reshape our towns:

“…if your car doesn't need to wait for you where you got out, then city-centre car parks disappear and retail gets remade (such of it as survives the shift to ecommerce, of course). No more worrying about parking. If you don't need to worry about parking yet can be driven there directly and affordably, how much travel shifts from public transport to cars? How many people visit a busy central area they might previously have avoided for that reason (the West End of London, for example)? But then, where does that car go afterwards – does it drop you off for dinner and drive off to a cheap carpark, or does it spend the next few hours driving other people around for a fee?”

Anyway, there’s much more in the original post. It’s one of the most insightful short-ish reads on motoring’s future that I’ve yet come across. You should hasten to it here.

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