Blog | 7 August 2018

River Predicts: Automotive in 2044

There probably isn’t a better marriage than that of the music and the car industries. Just like the many songs written about driving, cars have stories to tell. They talk of freedom, mobility, status and individuality.

‘Here in my car, I feel safest of all, I can lock all my doors, it’s the only way to live’ sang Gary Numan in 1979.

Clearly it was his car and not massive amounts of eyeliner that kept Gary from feeling impervious to any bodily harm but now, nearly 40yrs later our long entrenched cultural relationship with the automobile is on the brink of substantial change.

Over-crowded roads, pollution, rising motoring costs and the relentless government pursuit of anyone having any fun in their car is causing society to reassess what driving and car ownership is all about.

Fast forward another 25yrs and we predict some big changes in our usage and attitudes to the old automobile.

  • Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (that’s CAV’s to you and me Sunshine,) will be the norm. Just to be clear, we are talking about vehicles that can self-drive and talk to each other. Power will almost certainly be hybrid, with the bulk of the work taken by electricity or hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Car Crashes will be almost unheard of. Today you can buy a car that will apply the brakes if it thinks you are going to crash or turns the wheel if you stray out of your lane. In the next 5 years, cars will intervene in more and more scenarios. In 10 yrs, they won’t need your advice and in 25yrs they won’t take it.
  • Car Sharing will be commonplace. More of us will live in cities, so why buy when you can just rent? Mobility will be a utility. Order your car, share your journey, let it drop you off. Pick up another for your return.
  • Professional Driving will disappear. Say goodbye to those slightly borderline conversations with your taxi driver and say goodbye to the irritating lorries overtaking each other at a speed difference of 1mph. Robocabs will replace taxi’s and haulage will be automated
  • Self Driving Cars will go the way of horses. In that they will become a luxury item. People will still own cars and be able to experience the joy of driving but there will be fewer places in which to indulge.So, whilst

Jeremy Clarkson turns in his grave what will be the CSF’s for the automotive industry in the future?

  • Changing Consumer Behaviour – We aren’t going to give up our ‘right to drive’ without a fight so the acceptance of CAV’s is going to be critical in shaping developments. Content can play an integral role in generating uptake amongst influencers and shifting acceptance across the broader public.
  • Creating New Business Models – The rise in alternative transportation models such as car-sharing and pay-per use are going to re-shape the notion of ownership and the business models of the manufacturer. Combine this with an ‘always on’ and ‘connected’ vehicle then the development of new and probably commercial revenue streams seems inevitable.
  • In-car experience – With nothing to do except input your destination the in-car experience will be a key differentiating factor. Manufacturers will need to re-imagine the verticals they occupy. So, we might see the development of cars that proxy as mobile mini hotels, offices or entertainment centres.

On reflection, for those of us brought up on a diet of Top Gear, tyre squealing car chases, best ever driving song compilations and the simple joy of Knightrider, it all feels like a moment in history is about to pass us by.

This future vision of the car industry is coming if not in its entirety, then by some amount. The self-driving car will free us of much drudgery, and though the work such a car will do will be of great value, and entirely necessary given the future direction of the world, it probably won’t inspire many songs.

Who’s going to drive you home, tonight? Apple probably…

Alex Marks
Alex Marks
Strategy Consultant

Alex supports the strategic development of River's business and acts as an experienced marketing partner for our client teams. He is a regular commentator, writer and conference speaker on a wide variety of digital,  marketing,  and content strategy issues.