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.
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.
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.
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?
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, 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.
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.
@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.
California State University, Chico was the first school in California to offer an ABET-accredited degree program in mechatronic engineering. Now its California Mechatronics Center works with industry on machinery, robotics, and surveillance vehicles.
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