William Clay Ford, Jr. was born into automotive royalty. As the executive chair of the Ford Motor Company, founded by his great-grandfather, Henry Ford, in Detroit, this enormous company is obviously in the business of selling cars to the world. But now, Ford is looking toward a future that's not simply about selling more and more cars. It’s about a future where cars are greener and cleaner and traveling more efficiently on better, smarter road systems and in some cases, replaced by mass transit and other forms of transportation, including car sharing and “public” vehicles. Autonomous vehicles and connected cars are also a big part of Ford’s vision.
If you’re a collision repair professional, you might be interested in Bill Ford’s vision of our automotive future. It will invariably impact the body shop business on many fronts and huge changes will come with it. But, don’t fret—because this vision (if and when it is implemented) will take decades to happen.
The “big picture” in this whole scenario is based on the concept that individual car ownership is impractical and not economically viable. Think about it—as a car owner you have to invest a lot of money into a vehicle you drive maybe 12-15% of the time, while having to pay for fuel, insurance and incidentals ongoing, month after month.
Bill Ford is at the cutting-edge of this new movement, because he has seen the evolution from its inception, he said. “Well, I think we are already seeing a different type of love affair. When I was a child, people could work on their own cars easily. They would wax them in their driveways. It was a very personal, hands-on relationship. That’s evolved over the last 15 years or so as more technology has come into vehicles and cars have gotten more sophisticated. But the fun of driving is still there. And as we look forward to autonomous driving, it certainly—if done correctly—can have profound safety implications. The elderly wouldn’t have to give up their driver’s licenses as early as they do today. Drunk driving could be a thing of the past.”
Ford envisions a time when all vehicles will become a part of an integrated network, and every form of transportation will be talking to each other, so that we can optimize our way of moving around. For example, very soon our cars will be able—through sensors and technology—to be notified when a parking space opens up and then reserve it for us through an app, for example. With autonomous cars, drivers will be able to ask it to find the closest parking space and deliver them there.
Will you be able to get rid of your beloved car when Bill Ford’s vision becomes real and part of our daily lives? I bet you might, especially when you see the savings and the convenience of a world implementing Bill Ford’s Vision of Our Automotive Future.
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