Okay, likely no one remembers the film Tucker, The Man and His Dream (1988) about the maverick automaker who, in the 1940s, failed to get Detroit to adapt anything new—even seatbelts. Well, it looks like not much has changed. That’s the bottom line of a recent report from the Boston Consulting Group.
Today, we are all waiting for the greatest technological innovation since the invention of the horseless carriage—our self-driving robot cars. Recently, Google (a pioneer in autonomous driving technology) created some real buzz when it hired a real-life car executive. Alas, don’t go looking for the Google car lot. Excitement quickly faded. A company suit declared Google would likely partner with existing car companies.
That makes sense, but it is also a little frustrating—car makers have a sad record at adopting disruptive technology.
Boston Consulting Group points out “every year, more than 3.9 million people are injured in motor vehicle accidents in the US—and more than 33,000 are killed. The cost to society totals roughly $910 billion.” Their study found there is already a lot of technology out there that could provide “advanced driver assistance systems” that could “sharply reduce the toll that vehicle accidents take on society.”
But–it is not happening.
The big debate, as always, is how to drive the industry to move faster? More regulations? Tax bail outs?
What about the marketplace?
What we really need are disruptive consumers. Based on survey results, car buyers might be willing to fork over as little as 25 percent of the cost.
That might be true—but it might not.
Nobody thought average consumers would spend hundreds of dollars on phones, watches, and wireless services—but they do.
It is time to stop thinking about cars as transportation and start imagining them as frames where consumers have the choice to bolt on the technologies they want—like they load the apps they crave on their digital device.
When car makers stop being so last century they will inspire and engage the consumers of the 21st century.