What it is: Volvo has posted their vision for the future of self-driving, electric ride-sharing vehicles.
The future is clear to see. In today’s world of automobiles, cars run on gas, need a human driver, and are most cost-effective when you own your own car. In the world of tomorrow, cars will run on electricity, be self-driving, and be most cost-effective through ride-sharing services.
Today, car companies make money selling cars. Tomorrow, car companies won’t make money exclusively selling cars. That’s why General Motors is making a massive bet today by trimming their old business geared towards gasoline engines, human drivers, and car ownership, and pivoting towards the future of electric, self-driving cars where people rely on ride-sharing services. The future is clear to General Motors and other car makers like Volvo. The only question is whether that future is clear to everyone else.
The problem isn’t that the future isn’t known. The problem is that people resist change and deny the future because they’re far more comfortable with the past. Think of all those gas station owners who make money selling gas with people stopping inside to buy snacks as well. Today, that’s a profitable business. Tomorrow, gas stations will be obsolete because there won’t be a need to go to a dedicated gas station to refuel your car when you could go to a shopping mall or restaurant to recharge your car through an electric station.
Gas stations needed their own space because of the need for an underground gas tank. Electric stations are not hampered by such restrictions, meaning that they can be put anywhere such as shopping malls. Gas stations make money selling overpriced drinks and snacks because they have a captive audience that has to buy gas from them. When people no longer need to go to a gas station, they won’t need to buy overpriced drinks or snacks. That means the gas station business is doomed.
That future is clear. The only question is when will it occur. It’s definitely going to occur but far too many people simply ignore the clear future right in front of them and cling to the past for far too long until it’s too late. By the time it’s too late, they act shocked that their life could be upended so suddenly, even though that fate was clear years ahead of time.
Besides gas stations, parking structures and car dealers will also suffer. Why buy a car when it will be cheaper to rent one through a ride-sharing service? The taxi business is already dying thanks to ride-sharing services. Next to go will be the massive million dollar business of car insurance companies that will disappear when people no longer need to insure their cars. The ripple of change is clear for anyone to see. The people who refuse to act on this obvious change will be the ones who will suffer the most because they’ll be least prepared for a financial disaster that was years in the making and occurring right before their eyes the whole time.
If you want to get smart, think of the future involving electric cars, self-driving cars, and ride-sharing services. That’s what General Motors is trying to do by shedding their old business of selling cars. The odds are against them shifting to a new business just like the odds were against Borders shifting to online books sales, Sears shifting to declining retail selling, and Blockbuster Video shifting to streaming video. The problem General Motors faces is that they can only devote part of their resources towards the future while their rivals can devote 100% of their effort towards the future. General Motors has to devote part of their resources keeping their old business model alive, which is like Kodak trying to embrace digital photography and maintain their film business at the same time. It didn’t work for Kodak and the odds are it won’t work for General Motors either.
Volvo’s website envisions a future where you can hail a ride-sharing service to get a car that can take you to your destination. Best of all, rather than fight airport security, you can sleep in a self-driving car at night and wake up in your destination the next day at less cost and hassle than flying.
The future is right before your eyes. The people who will thrive are those who can recognize this future. The people who will suffer will be those who deliberately choose to ignore the future because they don’t want to believe it will happen as fast as it will, and then they’ll be left wondering what happened after the future steamrolls them into oblivion. Ask yourself, which fate do you want for yourself?