2015 is bringing with it a huge revolution in car technology. From the record success of electric car companies like Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors and the popular Toyota Prius line, renewable energy in our transportation seems more attainable than ever. Cars are being retrofitted with all sorts of efficiency focused systems like power generating shocks, tires, solar panels and more which are all being shoved into our cars. It’s never been a better time to be in the renewable energy scientist for a car company.
According to latest consumer reports though, the average purchasing adult is not that interested in making their cars more renewable or energy efficient. Of course, most will attest to wanting an electric car instead of a gas car for obvious reasons. There are still some with some even more obvious concerns for range, charge times, and cost. Without these hindrances, we would of course most all choose a “green” car over a gas car. However, it seems that that is just an inevitable shift in priorities. It is not a driving force for consumer interest and demand. Instead it seems that automation has taken the consumers focus. With the advent of Google’s self driving car, Volvo’s tests, and countless other races and competitions, the idea of a self driving vehicle is quickly approaching reality and consumers are going crazy over what it means for them. Just today the world’s first fully automated 18 wheeler shipping truck was revealed at the Hudson Dam by Daimler. Toting a 5% reduction in CO2 emissions, this street legal autonomous vehicle received an Autonomous Vehicle License plate from Nevada Governor, Brian Sandoval. This is the first of it’s kind.
This is only the latest in what is now becoming a saturated market in autonomous vehicle manufacturers. A recent report notes that the actual technology required to make a car autonomous is actually rather cheap. The average consumer will see no relative price increase in their current car costs. The off the shelf parts have already benefited from economies of scale and our futures will benefit for it.
It is unclear how much actual attention our cars will require once we automate them. Repairs may be as simple as the car driving itself to the repair shop where a fully autonomous assembly line fixes the already self diagnosed errors. Imagine going to bed with a check engine light on and waking up with it fixed. You may not even realize it’s happened. Instead of dropping your car off at the dealer for an expensive tune up, the DIY future for auto service repairs may be a bit more exotic than we think. Same day Amazon drone deliveries sending parts that your car requested which were ordered automatically and delivered for you to do yourself. Not to mention it found the exact part you needed at the best cost available online. Mobile notifications will let us know the package is on route, mobile banking will take care of the details, GPS will get it to your home, you do just focus on enjoying life.
With an expected market release date of 5 years, the average consumer is still far from achieving their hands free auto-pilot daily commute dreams. Traffic jams will disappear, people will stop dying on the way to and from places, we will have more time and more connectivity. It’s yet to see if the excuse of “I’m driving” will be a much missed expression before long but the alternative couldn’t arrive soon enough. The first person to get their safe autonomous car to market is going to make a whole lot of money and reduce the market for car repair shops.