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The big shifting of the car world

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The big shifting of the car world

Old 11-27-2018, 05:30 AM
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Default The big shifting of the car world

GM's announcement yesterday of the discontinuation of many of their car models, the layoff of a lot of employees, and the eventual shutdown of many of their plants indicates the pending seismic shift of the car landscape. GM is actually making good money and while some of their models (many manufacturers are dealing with this) are having sales slowdowns, the real reason as indicated by Mary Barra is the car world is changing rapidly.

I read an article recently that when fully autonomous drone cars come online (and it's going to happen faster than most of us think), people will no longer buy cars. They will buy subscription services for themselves and/or their families. They will open their smartphone and tell the car app they need to be at work at 7am. They will get an immediate response to be outside at 6:27am or whatever and they will walk out to an open sliding door, step in, and the car will silently zip away under electric power and navigate itself to the work destination.

At the same time, your wife and children are home. Your wife gets an alert to confirm both children are off to school (there will be legal issues on age, liability, etc. that will need to be resolved, but security measures can be put in place) at the same daily time of 8:30am. Your wife indicates yes and the app says to have children outside at 8:16am. Wife then decides she wants to go to Costco and opens the app again and selects it as one of her preset favorite destinations and scrolls to indicates a desired time of arrival of 9am. Due to her subscription level not being higher and the high demand during that time, the app replies back and says there is a 9:15 arrival slot available and she checks okay.

A richer family down the street has bought their own drone car. It's a Porsche-made brand and has a lot of fancy interior upgrades like plush carpet, high end nappa leather and even a setting to bypass speed limits and acceleration levels in limited situations. It's called "thrill mode." The Porsche drone can do 0-60 in 2.3 seconds in the right conditions when this mode is selected. Anyway, this drone can be pre-scheduled to take Dad to work, kids to school, and then Mom to her part-time attorney job and then to the spa in the afternoon, all with the same car. No more two or 3 car families needed. In the event of an overlap, Porsche has an additional option of flex scheduling where a company-owned drone Porsche will come by and pick up someone at the family residence when the family owned drone is otherwise unavailable. This family is wealthy and really doesn't like riding in a shared drone car. Plus, their Porsche drone is red so it stands out and makes them look cool to the neighbors. haha.

So, why is all this going to happen and fast? This article I read (wish I could remember where) said profits per vehicle is going to go up dramatically for the automaker when they own their own fleet and do subscription services since one car can service a lot of subscriptions. More and more younger kids don't want to mess with owning and maintaining a car anyway, especially those that live in dense urban areas where parking is very expensive. So, to keep the profit train churning, all automakers are working very heavily towards this new model for vehicle sales. I also read that Honda and GM are working together on this initiative which I found interesting. Here is a link to that big partnership with GM Cruise LLC:


Anyway, where does that leave us driving enthusiasts? It will become a hobby of sorts where we were park our old, non-autonomous vehicles at driving tracks/parks/schools where we can swing by on the weekend or after work/school to go flog our cars with steering wheels and brake and throttle pedals around a track. It will become something akin to what horse riding is today. A very fun hobby for those that love riding horses, except we will be in control of our loud, internal combustion engine cars with manual controls. The younger generations will roll their eyes at us, but once they taste the freedom of controlling a powerful machine with our hands and feet, many of them will appreciate the art form.
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Old 11-27-2018, 05:40 AM
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File that article the same place this got filed.

-- Chuck
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Old 11-27-2018, 05:43 AM
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I look forward to autonomous cars.

That said I'm much more interested in more equitable cities with better public transport & a greater focus on cyclists/pedestrians. If we want the world we've known to last even a little longer, we have to make huge changes.
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JamesD89 (11-27-2018)
Old 11-27-2018, 06:32 AM
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I think I will still be driving 30 years from now. And I think the pendulum will swing back the other way someday as far as cars/crossovers goes because fashionable trends go too far and then everybody wants something different from the crowd. It is human nature.

Current studies I have seen show that less than 50% currently are interested in self driving cars and even fewer would want it if it adds anything significant to the cost of the car. The average age of cars in the US is about 12 years old. Even if every car sold were to be autonomous, it would take well over a decade to make them the majority of cars on the road, and that would be if we accepted them overwhelmingly right off the bat. You are going to get push back from enthusiasts, and motorcycle riders, and many other interest groups you have not thought of yet.

Just like the thought we will all be driving electric cars in five years, this is jumping the gun by a long stretch.

I am waiting to see if the next gen 2020 Golf R, coming out next year will offer a stick before I decide what to buy. Want to get one of the last manuals of some variety that I can have as a half time daily to split with some kind of vehicle that offers utility. The biggest turnoff for me is the VW keeps touting how connected the next Golf will be and "always online" "with more software than any VW in history". That is actually a turnoff for me. I could give a rat's about connected and software. I still want to enjoy driving it. No manual and I might grab a 2019. I won't buy any autonomous car unless I have the ability to shut it off and drive myself.

I also thing the manufacturers could have saved some sedans by making decent wagon versions of them like an Outback, but that is a whole nother kettle of fish. Part of this move by the automakers is to get their product under truck versions of CAFE instead of cars, so if the rules are changed (and GM, Ford, and FCA will all fight that) they could be a bit screwed.

Last edited by vader1; 11-27-2018 at 06:37 AM.
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WolfpackS2k (11-27-2018)
Old 11-27-2018, 07:11 AM
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A few things have to happen before we can go full-autonomous:

1. Data transmission speeds have to go WAY up - 5G network coverage is a requirement, everywhere you want autonomous driving, in order to handle the bandwidth of information required to keep everyone safe. There's a big cost associated with network upgrades and it'll take quite some time for that to happen, unless the government steps in and helps out.

2. Consumer buy-in - they can't mandate autonomous transportation so people will have to willingly accept it. That means there has to be money in it for the consumer (ie, lower costs without loss of access to a vehicle). That means you have to have a massive fleet of vehicles to service large areas! Rural areas will continue with typical transportation, I think.

3. Existing vehicles have to be phased out - that alone will take 20 years, given how long some people own their vehicles. Consider than a first-year S2000 is nearly 20 years old at this point and still running strong. You'd probably have to legislate vehicles off the road to make it happen....which probably isn't going to happen anytime soon. Political suicide!

4. Inclement weather, especially winter weather, is the Achilles heel for autonomous transport. You need ultra-precise GPS and mapping to make it work in any condition, as roads are often covered by snow and you can't "read" them with cameras. Heavy rain has the same effect. That means you need a new method to "see" the road or else know specifically where you are. The current US GPS system is good to about 4m resolution (ie, it can pinpoint you to within 4m/13 ft of your actual location) in the civilian version. The new Chinese GPS apparently is good to about 4inches (military version) but the civilian version is only good to 10m (33ft). Again, that's fine for general navigation but the pin-point accuracy required for full autonomy means that we have to shift to another means of determining where on the road a vehicle is (cameras and GPS aren't good enough). Autonomous driving in Newfoundland (east coast of Canada) in the winter would automatically put you in a ditch... In the southern USA, sure, it's a lot simpler but anywhere that has winter or lots of rain is going to be much tougher for autonomous driving.

My opinion is that, like most things, it will be rolled out in carefully controlled, properly supported areas. Downtown areas would be a prime example, as you have very defined areas, high traffic volume due to single-commuters, all of the required infrastructure (or easy upgrades, due to small area of coverage), and the "will of the people" to cut down congestion and commuting times. In London, they're charging you a big fee to drive a personal vehicle into downtown already, as they push people to take public transport and reduce pollution/emissions. This is the glove over the iron fist that will slowly implement fully-autonomous transport in densely populated areas. As they work out the kinks, they'll implement it into the suburbs and will probably not even worry too much about the rural areas for a long time.

I have no hopes for car enthusiasts being anything but a very small minority in the future. All people care about today is their stupid phone (or tablet). They're completely addicted to them. They're too busy doing duck lips for Instagram and worrying about what everyone else thinks or is doing. People are attached to the idea of a good life, rather than actually having a good life. I was at a museum the other day and this girl (20 years old, maybe?) spent three or four minutes trying to get the perfect selfie with a dinosaur. Did she read anything about it to understand what it was? Nope. She just wanted a picture to prove she was there...

I live in the horse capital of Canada (Langley, BC) and my daughter rides/jumps. We are blessed to be able to support her hobby and allow her to compete. However, for most people, the expense of RENTING a horse (or taking lessons) is too prohibitive, much less actually owning one and then paying for lessons as well. With my daughter's horse, we averaged more than $600 a month in shelter, food, vets/farriers and equipment BEFORE paying for lessons. How many people can afford that, as a hobby? Same thing for vehicles with ICEs, in the future. They'll be a hobby for those with a surplus of cash - a "rich man's" sport...much like horses.
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WolfpackS2k (11-27-2018)
Old 11-27-2018, 07:36 AM
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There is a future in autonomous car, and I have full confidence we will have the technology someday, but we still have a significant way to go. Tesla even had to rename auto pilot.
Here's my rub, I believe autonomous cars can replace service vehicles like taxis and semis, but personal car not so much. People who live in densely populated areas would want a shared fleet service, which is essentially uber. Those autonomous cars will not provide them a benefit that say uber already provides them today.
The people that live in areas with more space have the room to park more vehicles, and they like having more vehicles. If you want to buy a fancy pod to show up the Joneses... wouldn't you just buy two or three if you have overlap?
And yes young people like not owning a car etc, and unless those young urban dwellers are lead engineers and not admin contract workers at their tech firm, paying 20 bucks each way to work (based on a 10 mile commute during rush hour peak times) teaches you real fast why people buy cars.
See that's the thing about economics, gm will figure out what your opportunity costs are to drive your own car, factor in convenience, supply, demand, etc and price their subscription accordingly. So it will save your costs significantly vs a public subsidized public transport system. If the US had better train systems like Japan for instance where you're never more than a 15 minute, most of the time 10, from a station, couple that with a good last mile solution like the electric scooters, and well you dont need cars period. I paid like 20 bucks for a week of traveling around Tokyo which is far more busy than living and commuting, taxis/uber only used for one off situations like going where the train doesnt or to the airport. In bangkok, a 3 mile taxi ride can take an hour, vs 15 minutes on the train and walking.
Then theres the liability, insurance aspect, imo tronkeldite opinion I think this is probably the biggest challenge. You're essentially programming decisions into a vehicle ahead of time meaning there is no room for split second understandable human error, the machine only does what it is programmed to do.
And electric cars as it stands right now only benefits the upper class since it requires a parking spot at home or work
So that I can charge. Cant live in an apartment with enough solar panels to make charging free and most workplaces dont offer charging, and those that do create a competitive environment to get the charge spots or having to constantly go to your car to see if available.
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Old 11-27-2018, 08:14 AM
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I don't see the future, as described by Quikag, happening for around 40-50 years. And I want no part in it. Thankfully I think that will be after my lifetime.

I also think that CUVs are a fad and more conventionally proportioned vehicles will make a return to popularity in the near future ( < 10 years).
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Old 11-27-2018, 08:23 AM
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I am the opposite, I see the QUIKAG future happening soon... I would say we will see a significant push to this model in the next decade. I believe that by 2030 the traditional internal combustion engine will be effectively dead (new vehicles powered by ICE, not wiping out all vehicles that currently use one). They will continue to be manufactured but only in low numbers for niche (read expensive) vehicles and for those willing to pay more for the novelty (similar to the horse analogy).
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Old 11-27-2018, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by WolfpackS2k View Post
I don't see the future, as described by Quikag, happening for around 40-50 years. And I want no part in it. Thankfully I think that will be after my lifetime.

I also think that CUVs are a fad and more conventionally proportioned vehicles will make a return to popularity in the near future ( < 10 years).

Thing is though cuvs arent fashionable, but very utilitarian and practical.
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Old 11-27-2018, 11:51 AM
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I'm not saying I like this potential future, but I think it is inevitable and it will happen quickly since auto makers will make more money under this business model. When there is a paradigm shift in the profit model available, you can bet billions and billions of dollars have and will continue to flow to perfecting the technology and vehicles and any needed infrastructure.

I will keep and hide my sports cars at the local race track and may eventually assimilate to a nice autonomous vehicle to go to and from work as the traffic here in DFW is a bit hectic and I'd rather take a nap, watch TV, play on my phone, etc. than sit in stop and go traffic to and from work.
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