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Automotive: a past and a future

2 August 2018

Chris Mason
CEO
FISITA

I started my career with Jaguar in 1985, in what was clearly a different time.

Thirty-three years have flown by and during this time the advancement of society and technology have been significant, which is something of an understatement, at least as far as technology is concerned.

Think about it, in 1985 cars were designed, assembled, sold and maintained in accordance with processes that had existed for one hundred years. Mechanical engineering was the focus and mainstay of the industry, with technological advancements primarily augmenting reliability, performance, comfort and safety.

At whichever point in time you wish to evaluate, the industry around us has delivered against the customer need and aspiration. While investing heavily in accepting its responsibility regarding societal challenges and regulatory expectation that this one-hundred-year success story has concurrently created such as emissions, safety and the industries inevitable corporate social responsibility.

Today when I look at the facts it’s clear we’re at a major juncture with regard to the traditional industry moving ahead of the curve of expectation and pro-actively embarking on the most significant and dramatic of changes and challenges as it becomes the mobility sector of tomorrow.

The reasons for this strategic shift are apparent. Consider this, in 2018, cars are still largely manufactured against a need established in 1900: of ‘opening the highways to all mankind’ (or a similar non-Ford quote of your choice!). Now, reflect on the following:

  • Cars are unused for most of the time
  • Car journeys are inefficient with high volumes of single occupancy journeys evident
  • Congestion is rife
  • Combustion propulsion is environmentally impactful
  • Too many people die on the motorways and highways around the world
  • Ownership is a significant and depreciating personal investment

All of which can be addressed through technology and points to a need for change, as identified and championed by our own industry leaders.

So, to the future.

Personal and commercial mobility will increasingly gather momentum as us customers consider the way current and emerging technology can address the challenges described above – commencing with price-point, in my opinion.

Price-point will attract consumers into a radically different evaluation and use of transportation – which will then pave the way for mass acceptance of evolved methods of transportation, or mobility as is now the familiar description. Just take a look at the basic economics, I’ll generalise my references for demonstration purposes.

Let’s establish a cost per mile benchmark for a traditional owner/driver model of say $1 - $1.60 per mile. In the near term this is significantly challenged by the emerging ‘shared economy’ where it is suggested mobility will be sourced for as little as $0.65 per mile, move that through the autonomous development cycle and ‘shared autonomous’ could be achieved at just $0.25 per mile, with some suggestions as low as $0.08 per mile.

Mobility will reduce the automotive impact on society and our environment, enable transportation to be an increasingly efficient, clean, cost-effective and convenient part of life that will be delivered with ease through one's handheld communications tool, or telephone as those of us around in the ‘old days’ will continue to say.

In conclusion, Mobility as a Service is just a moment away in the grand scheme of things and I haven’t even considered the impact of artificial intelligence in this piece, which is destined to change the world in a more impactful way than even the internet did back in 1997, in my opinion.

As for FISITA, we’re set good as it’s the engineers that create solutions and FISITA will continue to support them to do so.