#TechThursday – Four Wheels of Salvation

  Lindsey Schutters


 26 Mar, 2020


You may be on lockdown now, but Lindsey Schutters thinks you’ll be in a new car this time next year. Just make sure it can drive itself.

After the air clears and the petrol price falls through the floor as Russia and Saudi Arabia race to flood the oil needs of a world in lockdown, will we even care about saving the planet anymore? The smaller companies will never recover and all VW’s massive electric vehicle manufacturing endeavours in China will take months to get back up to speed.

Yes, EVs from traditional carmakers are the biggest loser of the stay-at-home challenge.

The first step when rebuilding the world economy will be to ramp up activity like building cars to get multiple people on the production lines again – back into their jobs. And the cars will be cheap, to get you back onto the dealer floors.

Next would be relaxing the strict carbon emissions regulations to give everyone some breathing room. After that will be an onslaught of the best-connected devices you have ever seen at competitive prices. And 5G everything.

Yes, if you haven’t heard enough of the pre-imminent connectivity accelerator, you won’t be able to escape it come 2021. It’ll be in your phone first, and then it’ll make it to your car. The engines may be guzzling gas like the old days, but the gizmos will be futuristic. Forget five years away, the future will come fast to get you buying again.

I haven’t seen the future, but I’m learning from the past century. The Vauxhall D-Type was the chariot for the generals of the Great War. BMW, Citroen and Renault all emerged from the debris as powerhouse automotive firms after pivoting from making machines of war. Even Ford entrenched itself in Europe by tooling for the war effort.

Our current war is one against an unseen enemy and the automakers are falling over themselves to keep the lines running with machinery to aid the cause. Ventilators today means good public sentiment and government deals tomorrow. What, you thought Meneer Musk jumped in because of a sense of duty to mankind? That could very well be but imagine how Tesla will dunk on its opposition when the tax incentives and subsidies get made available and everyone else is scrambling to get profits up again.

The motorcar has always been the saving grace for the masses after a war effort. And just like Tokyo 2020 is the first Olympic games to be postponed in peacetime shows us that we’re all in this fight together.

And so will the resurgence of the automobile, just this time they’ll probably drive themselves.

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