We must get over it: the automobile, as we lived it, will disappear.
Today we look with curiousness at former cars, which actually were carriages to which had been applied an engine, in a few years we will look at recent cars as something incredibly old.
We have grown – we who are not so young anymore – with the myth of the horse power and the sportsmanship, then we knew the qualities of electronics and technology in terms of drivability and roadholding, now we appreciate the low consumptions and the completeness of the equipment.
The core of the future car – if we want to believe in what we are told – will no longer be the engine nor the electronics applied to the mechanical or the comfort.
They will be the intelligent systems to determine their value!
Tomorrow’s car will be always connected to interact with our smartphone apps and that instead of the dashboards will have a computer desktop, maybe directly inserted into the windscreen, which in turn won’t be only a windscreen but a monitor able to give us information.
Goodbye old speedometer and rev counter!
The information will concern the road, the traffic and time to get to destination and where we will find a charging point.
Farewell contortions to get out of the car got stuck in a difficult parking; a click with our smartphone and the car will enter the parking alone!
Even the car’s interiors will be different.
More user friendly and less car cabin since the driver task will be considerably relieved by the autonomous driving functions.
Mercedes and Nissan suggest two different interior layouts, with a seating arrangement as in the living room (as the old carriage) when the autonomous driving is enabled.
Yes, but when? Future or science fiction?
Nissan’s commitment is to reach 2020 with a zero-emission car, autonomous driving, car cabin convertible in two different configuration, depending on which driving is enabled if automatic or manual, automatic parking system via smartphone.
Intermediate step for Nissan and Renault would be: by 2016 autonomous driving on highways without switching lanes (single-lane control), 2018 even switching lane (multiple-lane control), 2020 intersection autonomy even in the city (inner-city autonomy).
Toyota declared that by 2020 it will go on sale a car branded Lexus completely driverless and Japanese authorities have confirmed that by then there won’t be structural and regulatory obstacles to the circulation of autonomous driving cars.
(In 2020 Olympic Games will be held in Japan, it is expected that nobody wants to miss the chance of a huge visibility).
Mark Field, Ford CEO, was even more optimistic indicating a period of four years for the launch of the first model fully autonomous driving.
It is certain that Google, Apple, Baidu (the equivalent of Google in China) but also Uber and Tesla are working for some time on maps and pieces of software to install on board and Apple has indicated 2020 as the date of the commercial launch of iCar.
Some Google prototypes have already covered more than one million Kilometres in autonomous driving on American roads and in Detroit there is a real citadel dedicated to driverless car tests.
The well-informed claim that the real problems to solve aren’t the technical ones but the normative; to define and harmonize across the various States.
Just as the real problems in the development of electrically powered or alternative energy cars would be especially of logistical and charging network ones.
It is certain that the race is in progress and none of the big participants will be able to back out.
What is hard to predict, however, is what will be the real spread of the future cars, beyond the presentations and the commercial launches.
I think the innovation will have a spread by grade, first with the introduction of the individual devices concerning the single car (assisted parking, advanced radar etc.) and more slowly those that depend on external factors such as autonomous driving and alternative energy thrusters.
But how will change the brand value? Which brand will give value to our car?
Will we purchase a Fiat, a Mercedes or a Ford or even an iCar Apple or a Googl-Ford?
Many car manufacturers were originated fabricating bicycles (for example Peugeot and Morris), sewing machines (Opel and Rover) or modest mechanical carpentry; will we come back to the roots?
Will we see a future where emblazoned brands will produce only the case, while the core of our car will be Google, Apple or Microsoft?
This is the other challenge: car manufacturers have realized – late- that from “mechanic” they should transform into mobility providers if they don’t want to lose their identity.
Translated by Federica Izzo