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)