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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Bob Lutz Sees A Grim Future For the Automobile

    When did Bob Lutz become Nostradamus?

    Whenever Bob Lutz speaks, many people tend to listen as he a number of years of being in the automotive industry under his belt. Recently, Lutz wrote an editorial for Automotive News' Redesigning the Industry where he predicts we are “approaching the end of the automotive era,” within the next 20 years.

    “The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you’ll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway On the freeway, it will merge seamlessly into a stream of other modules traveling at 120, 150 mph. The speed doesn’t matter. You have a blending of rail-type with individual transportation,” Lutz wrote.

    Lutz sees governments pushing for a 'no-human-drivers' mandate when it becomes clear that self-driving vehicles are much safer than vehicles operated by humans.

    "The tipping point will come when 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are fully autonomous. Countries will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents."

    This according to Lutz will have catastrophic effects for the industry. Most of the driverless pods will be owned, operated and branded as "Uber or Lyft or who-ever else is competing in the market." Many automakers will be forced out of the business as people turn to sharing and not owning a vehicle. Some will remain, but acting as a supplier. Other parts of the business such as dealers, repair shops, and enthusiast magazines will fade away.

    "The era of the human-driven automobile, its repair facilities, its dealerships, the media surrounding it — all will be gone in 20 years."

    We're not fully on board with Lutz's train of thought. The time frame is a bit too soon as we are still on the ground floor when it comes to autonomous technology and the numerous hurdles that still need to be overcome. Plus, how will this driverless pod system work in rural areas?

    That isn't to say it will not happen. Elements of Lutz's viewpoint are coming into focus. For example, Waymo will not have any way for a human to intervene in emergency situations. 

    We highly recommend reading this piece.

    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

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    While he may be right eventually, I think his timeline is a bit too short. I'd guess 30 - 50 years only because of the long period of turnover for vehicles which is only growing.  I regularly encounter, while driving my 35 year old car, other vehicles of similar vintage on the road.  My 13 year old Honda is as common as anything out there, enough so that I have to look for the faded Mile 0 sticker on the back window to make sure I'm getting in my own silver CR-V and not someone else's. 

    Even if we get widespread adoption of autonomous cars on the market in 10 years, the cars that are new 9 years from now will likely still be on the road in 2042. 

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    It could happen in 20 years, I don't think that is so far off, Autonomous cars will get really common, I think for sure in 20 years you'll see more autonomous cars than human driven, getting the government to ban driving will probably be harder than building the cars themselves.

    I think though it won't be all cars on the road, but just as many autonomous drones in the sky.  Less variables to worry about in the air then there are on a road.

    The other big thing that will swing the tide is cost.  If you think of the cost to own a car, $300-400 a month in payment, $80 a month in insurance, $100-200 in gas, $100-200 in maintenance, etc.  All of a sudden we are talking $600 a month, add on another $100 a month in parking if you commute into a city.  If you can get rides in autonomous pods of some sort for even $300 a month, why buy a car?

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    Who's paying an average $200 a month in maintenance?  Maybe a used Benz owner... 

    But in all seriousness, 20 years is still too soon for it to be the majority of transportation in this country.  Product plans are being put in place today for vehicles that will hit the market in 10 years.   While I do agree that automation will increase... the half life of vehicles is just too long for the transformation to happen that quickly. 

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    1966 :

    Quote

    Congress introduces the earliest bills recommending use of electric vehicles as a means of reducing air pollution. A Gallup poll indicates that 33 million Americans are interested in electric vehicles.

    33 million was 17% of the then population of 195 million.
    PHEV/EV sales 51 years later: 0.5% of all vehicle sales.

    - - - - -

    Mainstream AD cars won't be significant in 20 OR 30 years. The industry moves far slower than people tend to think it does.

    Edited by balthazar
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    25 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Who's paying an average $200 a month in maintenance?  Maybe a used Benz owner... 

    But in all seriousness, 20 years is still too soon for it to be the majority of transportation in this country.  Product plans are being put in place today for vehicles that will hit the market in 10 years.   While I do agree that automation will increase... the half life of vehicles is just too long for the transformation to happen that quickly. 

    $200 in maintenance is too high now that I reread that, but if you factor in tires and brakes, oil changes, air filters, state inspections, and any repairs, I think $100 a month is reasonable.   Would be less on a brand new car under warranty.

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    20 minutes ago, balthazar said:

    1966 :

    33 million was 17% of the then population of 195 million.
    PHEV/EV sales 51 years later: 0.5% of all vehicle sales.

    - - - - -

    Mainstream AD cars won't be significant in 20 OR 30 years. The industry moves far slower than people tend to think it does.

    Cost keeps people from buying EV's.  If a Tesla Model S was $44,900 base and $69,900 for the P100 D then several luxury brands would be out of business right now.  

    The day is coming when you'll be able to get unlimited rides in a Tesla Model S level car for half the price of buying or leasing a Ford Focus.   Then people will stop buying cars.

    Or if the government mandates that it is illegal to drive a car, then that ends driving also.  But they can't figure out how to make it illegal to own an assault rifle, so who knows.  When you look at the top 2 killers in this country, shootings and car accidents are it.   There could be a 9/11 World Trade center event every month of the year and car crashes would still kill more people.

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    1 minute ago, smk4565 said:

    Cost keeps people from buying EV's.  If a Tesla Model S was $44,900 base and $69,900 for the P100 D then several luxury brands would be out of business right now.  

    The day is coming when you'll be able to get unlimited rides in a Tesla Model S level car for half the price of buying or leasing a Ford Focus.   Then people will stop buying cars.

    Or if the government mandates that it is illegal to drive a car, then that ends driving also.  But they can't figure out how to make it illegal to own an assault rifle, so who knows.  When you look at the top 2 killers in this country, shootings and car accidents are it.   There could be a 9/11 World Trade center event every month of the year and car crashes would still kill more people.

    Well... no... there would still be that little issue of building them which seems to be a challenge for Tesla at the moment. 

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    5 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Well... no... there would still be that little issue of building them which seems to be a challenge for Tesla at the moment. 

    Fair enough, but if they had the production capacity.  Same could be said for if Mercedes or Audi or anyone else if they had an EV car at that price point with that capability.  If Toyota had a Camry EV for $26,000 they would sell 1 million a year I bet.  Once the batteries get cheaper, the gas engine will be done.

    37,700 killed in car accidents last year, something like 93% of that is due to human error, that is why the government will ban driving.  Drug overdoses are 60,000 a year, so cars are behind that, gun deaths about 33,000 a year.  

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    It's not capacity, it's skill.  On the Model 3 line they are operating the robots manually.  That runs completely counter to Musk's claim that they'll be ramping up to 10,000 a month when no one in the industry runs a single line at that speed.  I forget the statistic, but I think Ford has one of the fastest producing plants out there (F-150) and that one plant can't even manage 10,000 a month. 

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    I see them as being only part of what is on the road. I still see human driven cars, as people are simply not going to give that up with a fight. If people don't trust the government enough to give them their guns, I highly doubt they will give up driving themselves either....

    The only way that I see this happening in any time frame soon is if it was government forced.  People at their core still want choice, no matter how little there might be.

    While I wouldn't mind a car (or bus) taking me to say...work- I would still want the freedom to drive when and where I wanted to. And while I see it for the large cities, pretty sure it would be tough in say large rural areas.....

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    56 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    It's not capacity, it's skill.  On the Model 3 line they are operating the robots manually.  That runs completely counter to Musk's claim that they'll be ramping up to 10,000 a month when no one in the industry runs a single line at that speed.  I forget the statistic, but I think Ford has one of the fastest producing plants out there (F-150) and that one plant can't even manage 10,000 a month. 

    I doubt Tesla will even be at 3000 a week by the end of January.

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    2 hours ago, smk4565 said:

    If Toyota had a Camry EV for $26,000 they would sell 1 million a year I bet.

    Nissan has a Leaf EV for $30K; they're gonna sell 13,xxx this year.

    When you look at the top 2 killers in this country, shootings and car accidents are it.

    Not even close.

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    13 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Who's paying an average $200 a month in maintenance?

    Even $100 a month sounded high to me.. By quite a bit. Unless the user is buying ties on a yearly basis, which would then make sense, if it's just our regular oil changes, filter changes, even if you added trans flushes once a year(which no company suggests as most are a sealed system now) you're still talking like $20 a month. Guestimating 3 oil changes($35 each), 2 tire rotations($20 each), and one $100 trans flush is just a tad over $20 a month. And you could mix and match that $100 trans flush to brakes or other miscellaneous things totaling $100. I could see on an older car where things are braking but at that point the vehicle should already be owned.

    13 hours ago, balthazar said:

    1966 :

    33 million was 17% of the then population of 195 million.
    PHEV/EV sales 51 years later: 0.5% of all vehicle sales.

    - - - - -

    Mainstream AD cars won't be significant in 20 OR 30 years. The industry moves far slower than people tend to think it does.

    People would and are interested but I think range anxiety is probably the biggest hold up. Then when they look into it(as an average joe family guy) and see they need to spend another $1000 to put a home charger in.. they get deterred. 

    I'm in agreeance with everybody here that 20 years sounds too soon and I pray to sweet baby Jesus that it is too soon because I'd still like to be able to drive my own car in 20 years. 

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    13 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Well... no... there would still be that little issue of building them which seems to be a challenge for Tesla at the moment. 

    Tesla is a dead man walking in the automobile industry.  I see them done by 2019 or 2020.

    5 hours ago, ocnblu said:

    Bob Lutz is a god.  Don't forget it, kiddos.  Wow, look at them coming out of the woodwork in honor of The Man.

    This is Cheers and Gears...i could see people coming out with wood in honor of a man...

    9 hours ago, Intrepidation said:

    MAXIMUM BOOB IS BACK AT IT

    His fortune-telling abilities are about as credible as his insistence that climate change is a farce.

    He is an absolute moron on the Climate change issue.  I think insurance companies not the government will be the big push for autonomous cars.  They do not need to be anywhere near 99.9 % perfect, just better than humans.

    As I have said before, my middle daughter is working in automotive claims.  Claim the other day was from a person who rear ended a vehicle stopped at a red light.  Woman driving the car claimed she shouldn't be marked at fault because cars shouldn't stop at red lights. She sees and deals with something this stupid on a daily basis.  This, not the evil Gov'ment or Lutz is driving us towards autonomous cars.

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    13 hours ago, smk4565 said:

    Fair enough, but if they had the production capacity.  Same could be said for if Mercedes or Audi or anyone else if they had an EV car at that price point with that capability.  If Toyota had a Camry EV for $26,000 they would sell 1 million a year I bet.  Once the batteries get cheaper, the gas engine will be done.

    37,700 killed in car accidents last year, something like 93% of that is due to human error, that is why the government will ban driving.  Drug overdoses are 60,000 a year, so cars are behind that, gun deaths about 33,000 a year.  

    Gun deaths are largely but not entirely the human tree of life being self pruning.  Tree of life is also self pruning in our insistence on the merit in for profit health care.  Many of those car accidents are tree of life self pruning also...I.E. people trying to beat a train.

    Nature and Darwin would dictate that a certain portion of any population is unfit to reproduce. The woman putting on makeup while texting in the Sonata in the next lane would be the mandate for this claim.

    13 hours ago, smk4565 said:

     There could be a 9/11 World Trade center event every month of the year and car crashes would still kill more people.

    See tree of life self pruning comment.

    8b555bbde56a64c72067282502f5562c--crazy-things-silly-things.jpg.e569813bc7547772b847ef422c710dec.jpg

    Merging this with the Kia Soul thread...small rodents/mammals probably more effective at driving than Humans. 

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    13 hours ago, smk4565 said:

    But they can't figure out how to make it illegal to own an assault rifle, so who knows.  When you look at the top 2 killers in this country, shootings and car accidents are it.

    Hand guns kill more people than assault rifles. 

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    19 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    Hand guns kill more people than assault rifles. 

    Human stupidity is the real reason most of these  people die...

    When you try to stiff your meth dealer for payment in a dark alley or pull a loaded gun on a cop...you don't need to be part of our gene pool.

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    8 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    Human stupidity is the real reason most of these  people die...

    When you try to stiff your meth dealer for payment in a dark alley or pull a loaded gun on a cop...you don't need to be part of our gene pool.

    I completely agree with you. 

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