In­ter­est in smart ve­hi­cles

New op­tions in car own­er­ship

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AARON TURPEN

IN an au­to­mo­tive con­sumer study pre­sented at the North Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional Auto Show in Detroit, IBM found that con­sumers ex­pect to use cars dif­fer­ently and don’t nec­es­sar­ily want to own one in the tra­di­tional sense — es­pe­cially when the car has “self-en­abling” tech­nolo­gies. Mean­while, Ford has taken the lead in cre­at­ing an al­ter­na­tive own­er­ship model.

The IBM In­sti­tute for Busi­ness Value (IBV) de­vel­oped its “A New Re­la­tion­ship — Peo­ple and Cars” re­port based on the study. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, con­sumers have a high level of in­ter­est in “self-en­abling cars”, de­fined as cars that can learn, heal, drive and even so­cialise.

Th­ese are char­ac­ter­is­tics of au­ton­o­mous cars (self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles), self-re­pair­ing ve­hi­cles, and ve­hi­cles util­is­ing var­i­ous forms of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to learn over time. The study is the se­cond part of a se­ries IBM has been con­duct­ing ti­tled Au­to­mo­tive 2025.

Nearly 16 500 con­sumers in 16 coun­tries were in­ter­viewed by IBM to de­ter­mine how they ex­pect to use ve­hi­cles in the next decade. This is in con­junc­tion with the first re­port, which in­ter­viewed au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try and sup­plier ex­ec­u­tives.

The con­sumer in­ter­views found that the clear ma­jor­ity liked the idea of di­ag­nos­tic and preven­tive re­pair ca­pa­bil­i­ties, with 59% of re­spon­dents lik­ing the idea and 10 out of 16 coun­tries plac­ing it as a high pri­or­ity.

The idea be­hind this is that as sen­sors and com­put­ing im­proves in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try, so will the abil­ity of the ve­hi­cle to self-re­pair and com­pen­sate for prob­lems, even­tu­ally lead­ing to more and more self-re­pair op­tions in fu­ture ve­hi­cles. This would in­clude ve­hi­cles that can ac­cess the cloud and re­port in­for­ma­tion as well as gather up­dates for re­pair, an­other pop­u­lar self-en­abling op­tion among many in­ter­vie­wees.

Some may find it sur­pris­ing that most con­sumers in­ter­viewed (67%) still think that the deal­er­ship, in-per­son buy­ing model is an im­por­tant part of the car-buy­ing process. At the same time, 46% would con­sider buy­ing on­line, di­rect from a man­u­fac­turer and 38% would do so from a third-party seller (i.e. dealer or bro­ker).

The other side are al­ter­na­tive own­er­ship op­tions. Per­sonal cars still reign supreme among most of those in­ter­viewed, but more than a third (42%) would con­sider al­ter­na­tive own­er­ship mod­els like sub­scrip­tion pric­ing, and about a quar­ter (24%) liked the idea of frac­tional (shared) own­er­ship. An­other third would con­sider car-shar­ing or on-de­mand ride shar­ing as op­tions. Most liked the lat­ter two for var­i­ous rea­sons, in­clud­ing re­tain­ing own­er­ship but mak­ing a re­turn on in­vest­ment when the ve­hi­cle is not oth­er­wise be­ing used.

On that fi­nal front, Ford has taken a lead­ing role by cre­at­ing a new pi­lot pro­gramme for a shared car pur­chase op­tion. This frac­tional own­er­ship op­tion al­lows Ford Credit buy­ers in Austin, Texas to self-or­gan­ise into a group own­er­ship model in­volv­ing three to six peo­ple. This could be any­thing from a fam­ily with mul­ti­ple driv­ers to a neigh­bour­hood or com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tion buy­ing as a group. Oc­ca­sional-use ve­hi­cles such as pickup trucks are prime for this type of own­er­ship, Ford says. —

PHOTO: FORD

Ford’s pi­lot pro­gramme for a frac­tional-own­er­ship lease scheme uses an app to al­low those in­volved to in­ter­act, as well as pay their por­tion of the ve­hi­cle’s costs.

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