@Rob, thanks for the post. Automotive industry need to map with the GROWTH SPEED of electronics and software industries. The automotive industry design products that will be launched in three years and last for 10. Mechanics, electronics and software all three together play major role in matching the customer requirements.
Rob, that is a good observation. The products are disposable in some cases becuase that is what makes sense. In other cases it is becuase of progress made in the industry. Automobiles are much more expensive and need to be used longer to justify their cost. If you look at auto sales in the US, I think that 10-15% of the vehicles are replaced each year. So, really, we only see a small percentage of the improvement in fuel efficiency over the whole fleet each year.
Good points Naperlou. As well as durability during the first buyers ownership, period, the owner also expects to gain some value when the car is sold on the used car market. so the expectation for durability goes beyond the first few years of the vehicle's life.
This is part of what makes EVs and hybrids such a mystery. It's not clear yet what the value of these vehicles will be on the used car market, especially if used car buyers have to replace the battery.
Rob, good point about the battery. I hope I have the numbers right in what I am about to say, but it they are off by a little bit it won't change the situation.
On the Tesla Roadster the purchaser can spend an extra $12,000 for battery replacement up front. It is a kind of insurance. If the battery lasts seven years (it could be five) then the battery is replaced by Tesla. If it does not last that long, then the owner has to put up some extra money. I guess the thought is that you were not taking proper care of it. If you do not buy the "insurance" then the battery costs $40,000 to replace. The prices might be somewhat lower in the newer models, but as a percentage of the purchase price it is still large.
These cars have not been around long enough in large enough numbers to really develop a used car market. So, it will be interesting to see.
We still have a long way to go to prove out the model for EVs and hybrids. Two things that could hamper development is the apparance of a highly efficient internal combustion engine and a dive in oil prices due to the volume coming onto the market from North America fracking.
Rob, another trend along those lines is the move by trucking companies to natural gas. A large, local concrete company here in the Chicago area, Ozinga, has announced that they have begun to replace their concrete mixers and support vehicles with ones that run on CNG. They will have their whole fleet of about 500 vehicles replaced by 2020. This gives them a lower cost alternative to diesel. Other companies are moving the same way. If the trucking industry can go that way, then the use of oil as a transportation fuel will begin to decline rapidly. That coupled with greater efficiency and increased domestic oil production (up dramatically in the past year and rising) will make it very hard to compete. Imagine if we also converted a number of cars to CNG. Those are used around the world.
Nice link, Chuck. From an environmental point of view, I believe the jury is still out on fracking. So far, Democrats are favoring the new jobs, and the source for homegrown oil, over any effect on the environment. Plus, so far there is no poster child to fight fracking. There has not yet been an incident to dissuade our citizens. It may not come. Or it may come.
Lou, that's interesting to hear how trucking companies are moving to natural gas as fuel. I've been watching that trend in local county bus systems for a few years now. It's both cheaper and cleaner than diesel, so it makes sense to use it for commercial operations.
A very interesting post, Rob. I was interested in the discussion of who owns the intellectual property for an innovation. I wonder if the auto industry will start to adopt open source hardware and software so that every car can have the highest safety and efficiency available. I recall that Fisker Automotive had a vision of making much of its chasis specifications publicly available so that any supplier could design an instrument cluster or door panel or seat or whatever.
Your comment on the cost of batteries for used cars is interesting. It would require a major culture change in our thinking about ownership but consider this: What if all car batteries were plug compatible and functionally the same? And what if batteries and charging stations were municipally owned -- like the bus company? So when your battery needs a charge, you drive your car over a charging station, the battery gets hot swapped as you pay the kiosk. The charging station identifies those batteries that are at end of life and retires them while charging the others.
We already see some of this culture change happening in rent-by-hour services such as Zipcar. Do we really have to own cars that are used a few minutes a day?
Hey 78rpm. A battery swap progrma was launched in Isreal, Bettewr Stop. It was private enterprise and it failed last month. I like your utility idea, but the government is not in the mood for new programs.
I spoke wth Lear about IP. They develop hybrid and EV power trains for their auto customers. Lear retains the IP.
Siemens is pushing for IP to become available across the industry. It must be frustrating for them to work out a solution for one auto customer then not be able to take that solution to another auto customer.
The emphasis on elderly drivers makes, Rob, given the number of baby boomers nearing retirement now. Night vision aids and active safety systems, such as adaptive cruise and collision avoidance, will be marketed toward seniors.
I agree, Chuck. I think Siemens got something there. Add to it the face that seniors will welcome changes that help them sustain drive-ability. The ability to drive (or the disability that might keep them from driving) often means the difference between independence or dependence.
Thanks for this informative, behind-the-scenes look at the design decisions that happen in the auto industry. You're right, we hear so much fuel efficiency we don't often think about the other factors at play. This gives us a glimpse of what car makers are thinking.
True Elizabeth all the designs will forces on a human need, "Fuel saving" now it has become a responsibility of designers. So the future all the designs will be depend on the fuel consumption effectiveness.
Wow, Chuck, you wrote about vehicle to grid about a zillion years ago in the speed of EV and hybrid changw -- 2009. I think it's a bit of a dream, but it's a dream worth backing when it comes from a company like Seimens.
Yes, the vehicle-to-grid idea has been out there for few years, Rob, but it has had some trouble getting traction. I think there needs to be a critical mass of vehicles out there for it to make sense, and that hasn't happened yet.
Thanks for a good overview of what Jockusch talked about. The points he made are good but more can/needs to happen for the automotive industry to stay ahead of cultural changes.
Finding new ways to keep people in their cars and generating more energy to power up devices that we seem to require isn't innovation. That's just keeping the staus quo. Open source design is part of any good design process today. True creativity and uniqueness takes time. Time is the one thing designers don't have access to today.
I agree, Rob, design cycle reduction is back in the news these days. I recall it was also a big topic a decade ago. I remember one of the big automotive associations hosted a conference on the "12-month car." I've yet to see a 12-month car, however.
Environmental factors will continue to contribute to a cars overall design for the next 75 years if things stay as they are. After that it may not be an issue as oil prices will top out at $2,500 per barrel and auto manufacturers will have progressively moved us either into all electric vehicles or another medium all together.'
Yes Rob you are absolutely correct cultural change do drive auto design. Because of the enviornmetal factors autocompanies are working on green cars in order to avoid pollution, Majority of the auto companies are working on Hybrid and electrical cars whic can reduce the consumption of feuls and make the journey cost effective .
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