The future of transportation is surely going to be transformative, but today we seem to be stuck between gears. Car companies are still pitching us on the thrill of driving today’s models, but their future-forward message point us towards seamless mobility. BMWs ‘ultimate driving machine’ promises us an exhilarating time behind the wheel, while their other segments are selling us on green energy and the future of autonomous commuting. The future of transport looks to be less about having a thrilling time behind the wheel and more about time well spent getting from point to point.
Look, I know it’s formulaic, but a montage of energetic camera shots featuring a beautifully-sculpted car and its driver shifting gears on a twisty canyon road still works for me. Overlay a gripping soundtrack with high revving exhaust notes and I’m riveted. It would be much harder to capture my attention with footage of someone blissfully enjoying a conference call while their sterile pod drives them to the office, but that’s where the future is sailing.
The question is do we wait and jump onboard with the first generation of self-driving models or buy a nimble ride that’s entirely in your control? I think most would agree that time is our most precious resource, and let’s be honest, most of our commutes are so dull that it’s actually refreshing to hear your Uber driver regale you with their startup ideas.
In this transition period, it will be interesting to see if automakers start offering trim packages for their common Ride Share models. For one, it’s painfully difficult to hear your Uber driver when you’re in the back seat – right? A Ride Share trim package might include an augmented audio experience, mobile power ports in the rear, a trash can, scuff plates to protect the trunk sill from luggage scrapes, etc. That all seems like a no brainer. Or maybe automakers are simply biding their time. Autonomous vehicles might render the Ride Share’s network of drivers obsolete and open up new markets for autonomous branded vehicle experiences. Imagine taking a Whole Foods breakfast diner car on the way to the office, a Peloton spinning car on the commute home, a Lululemon yoga car on the way to the airport, etc.
Airstream debatably owns the category when it comes to time well spent in a recreational vehicle. I’d like to see Airstream co-brand with some of the majors on autonomous travel.
Other future thoughts might include content providers using AI to tune your multimedia experience to match the length of your trip and those AR features will enable you to virtually transform the cabin into whatever your imagination might desire. Add to this environmentally-smart platforms and a complete rethink of automobile ownership and, the future of transportation is exciting, no doubt. Still, automakers are going to have to address the need for emotional fulfillment while also providing a place for productivity and recreation on demand.
Until next time, thanks for letting me be Frank.