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Automotive 2025: It's not Uber Alles.

By Carl Ford April 08, 2015

IBM did a survey of executives in the automotive space making predictions for 2020 which they are updating now to predict where the auto industry will be in the near ten years.

The last study was pretty accurate, and I have no doubt that it will give us new insight this time. One of the predictions I find particularly clairvoyant and telling is that of the consumer buying personal transportation services rather than personal vehicles.

You see, I was at a wedding with a hedge fund executive and he was all hot to trot for Uber. Now, I have friends who talk about Uber like they talk about Apple. I understand the frustration of trying to hail a cab. I also understand that a lot of the price difference between these services and cabs are embedded taxes. It’s hard for me to believe that governments that put licensing regulations in place are not going to want that licensing to continue. This is no longer the early years of the Internet, when governments were interested in encouraging growth above all.

One point that I made to the exec was that Uber fundamentally was software, and it’s more than likely that an open source version of Uber will be adopted by livery companies. Right now, I get these interesting public relations emails from people wanting me to hear about Uber blunders. Since I am more interested in the IoT side of the equation, I don’t use these fear monger reports.

All of this “ride share strategy” is the present model. The IBM study suggests something different is going to happen in the future. Rather than an Uber-like service, imagine that autonomous vehicles are the taxis of the future. The companies that offer the service may be the manufacturers.  In effect, you would buy a license to use on-demand vehicles. As an interim, you might see dealerships become the equivalent of rental agencies.  

The report and the conversations go further with personal infotainment and predictive maintenance. All of these things are in various stages of being available today, so the future is not that hard to predict. What is hard to predict is consumer adoption. Emailing a stranger to give me a ride would have sounded like the start of a horror movie ten years ago. Today, it’s commonplace.

That says that business models need to marry the right software with the right marketing to succeed.  The real winners then will be the people who can combine technology with consumer benefits.




Edited by Ken Briodagh

Partner, Crossfire Media

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