At a speech before the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Ford Motor Co.’s Executive Chairman Bill Ford (Henry’s great-grandson) made some notable remarks about how the future will need to accommodate 4 billion cars on the road by mid-century. (We already have about a billion.)
While people around the world keep buying cars at a rapid pace, traffic jams are endemic, seemingly endless and growing: 100 miles in Sao Paulo, for instance, lasting 2-3 hours a day. You heard about the one in China lasting 11 days? Elsewhere, “the cost of congestion to the economy in England through lost time will rise to around $35 billion (€26 billion) annually by 2025. In Germany, sustaining a town of 300,000 people is estimated to require 1,000 truck deliveries daily.”
So Bill Ford proposes collaboration between public and private transport, government and the telecommunications industry, to develop an interconnected network whereby cars, bicycles and pedestrians will be part of some giant integrated system to control their movements, especially in gridlocked cities. A business opportunity here? Oh yeah.
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In the old days (maybe five years ago), one of the horrors you’d see on the road was a driver fumbling to unfold his map while buzzing through traffic. Now, he looks at his GPS, which conveys much more (and more accurate) information while buzzing through traffic.
But it’s the same pressure to know where you’re going before you get there, and the driver still takes his eyes and attention off the road.
Audi now gives him all the detail and distraction of Google Earth (see above); Mercedes-Benz gives him “Facebook, Yelp, a news reader, Morningstar Finance, Google search, Google Street View, and Panoramio.” We note that “many” (why not all?) of the Benz apps are blocked while the car is moving.
CNET tells us that this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was in large part a venue for automakers to display their newest screens, apps and dashboard glitz—most designed to bring all the junk on your phone into the car. The so-called connected car is gaining “incredible momentum.”
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