“The ACs Are Coming! The ACs Are Coming!”

Maybe it’s because I am heading to Boston and Paul Revere comes to mind but if he were here, he would surely join me in the shout out!

Autonomous Cars (AC) or self driving vehicles (SDV) are going to happen and it is time to look at how this is going to change your life.

Thinking about buying a new car? Go ahead. Fully autonomous cars are not exactly happening tomorrow. Or next year. But,  this well may be your final purchase. Why? Because your self-driving Uber is arriving now.  In their ask-for-permission-later approach to doing business, UBER has found a city without regulations and has started implementing SDVs in Pittsburg. Uber is piloting 4 Fusions and plans to add 100 Volvos to the pilot by year end. That’s this year’s end.

Want to take the ‘thank GOD it was uneventful’ UBER ride? Click here.  It is pretty cool.

Last Feb., I attended the GreenBiz Conference in Arizona and had the opportunity to hear the VP of Transportation with General Motors make the point that his grandson, now 11, shcoked-teenwill most likely not experience the milestone of getting his driver’s license.  Yup, soon that 16-year-old driver’s license milestone will become the eye roll  as children of Foundationals ask questions like, “What’s a Driver’s License?  “You mean you had to drive yourself?”  “You owned your own car!?”

How will SDVs change your life? Think about all those hours of driving kids car pool to school or birthday parties. Gone.  And all those hours of commute time can now become productive, maybe even billable, time as you (safely) focus on your phone. And as we age, and don’t want to drive or want our parents to drive, what a great way to retain a level of independence.

Reflection pond atop of Kaiser Center Garage.

Reflection pond atop of Kaiser Center Parking Garage.

“But wait!”  you say. “SDVs and ACs  won’t take cars off the road or reduce particulates in the air! Not true, my friend. Cars will be on-demand and shared by many, not an item owned by one. And GMs first SDV will be electric.   Parking decks? Poof – GONE! Or at least minimized and re-purposed. From parking decks to  parks. More greenspace means less CO2 and other particulates that contribute to unhealthy air quality.

So if we are going to be driven, will auto manufacturers be driven out of business? No more automobile manufacturers?

The production of automobiles isn’t disappearing. but auto makers are. I am not talking about going out of business. I am talking about how car manufacturers are now re-framing themselves. They no longer see themselves as automobile manufacturers but as ‘Mobility Companies”. And they are moving at breakneck speed to get there first.

GM spent $1 billion on a tiny self-driving startup called Cruise Automationinterior.  Ford expects to have the largest fleet of autonomous test vehicles of any automaker by year end.  Toyota struck a partnership with Uber.  Volkswagen invested $300 million in ride-hailing company Gett.

Why?

At stake is a transportation services market that Ford believes is worth $5.4 trillion.  That’s a big pie and it’s not just automakers who want a bite of it.  Apple poured $1 billion into China’s Didi Chuxing,  Google partnered with Fiat Chrysler to outfit 100 Pacifica minivans.  Minivans!

Wow, it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile anymore, is it?

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