I was out walking my dog yesterday when I came across an over 60 zealously polishing an old 1966 Karmann Ghia that has just been repainted and it made me wonder whether anyone really likes the shape of cars today? Cars were something that replaced the horse, and in the early years were a true item of beauty. They’ve evolved to become an item of comfort and convenience, still controlled by a driver. But a big change is coming, likely led by Apple, Tesla and Google. How many of us are prepared to sit back from the coming car-revolution and wonder whether cars of tomorrow will even look like the cars we know today.
There is a lot of rumours flying around the Internet at the moment talking about how the car manufacturers of the future will likely not be the companies we think of today, those of Ford, Toyota and Holden. In fact today’s rumours have Google and Apple both rushing the development of driverless cars that can change the way cars, roads and driving work forever. This, alongside the continual evolution of Tesla and others in on the truly electric car revolution and we might conclude that cars are about to get a whole lot different, in our lifetime.
One of Apple’s pre-eminent designers has spoken in the Wall St Journal recently, making it clear to the world that he is uninspired by current-day car designs. In fact he named the auto industry as his “pet peeve”.
The Economist features an article this week on the future of the autonomous vehicle. Entitled ‘What if autonomous vehicles ruled the world‘ it throws fuel on the fire of the debate about a coming car revolution that could rival the arrival of the combustion engine and what it did to the horse and carriage. It talks about two different types of motor vehicle evolution… the gentle one that will allow new driver assistance features to gradually arrive in cars in a similar way to how electric windows and power steering did without any of us asking for them.
The other sounds truly revolutionary, with pods that can be summoned to drive you to your destination with a touchscreen kiosk. The article talks about a recent evolution at Heathrow Airport in London, where “transfers between the car park and terminal are provided by driverless electric pods moving on dedicated elevated roadways. Using a touchscreen kiosk, you summon a pod and specify your destination. A pod, which can seat four people, pulls up, parks itself and opens its doors. Jump in, sit down and press the start button—the only control—and it drives you to your destination, avoiding other pods and neatly parking itself when you arrive, before heading off to pick up its next passengers.”
Boggling to think this type of technology is already emerging. But what if there was a massive shift in the process of what we see cars looking like and behaving like? Rather like Apple managed to do with the ipod, replacing CD players.
The fact that two of Apple’s very prominent designers hate today’s motor vehicle designs may be a sign of what lies ahead. One of these designers names his favourite car as the Bentley Mulsanne… we can only hope the influence of old joins with the smarts of new to make everything better in the car industry.
But are we ready? Are you still aching in your heart for the cars of yesterday like this beautiful Karmann Ghia? Or are you ready for the future of motoring? What type of car would you have built out of the old days given the chance? Mine would be this Karmann… beautiful!