January 27, 2009

The Future: Cars become Social Objects Image via WikipediaIn my work on the future of media, technology and content I often run across related areas such as tourism, banking, energy and transportation; and I have recently ventured into some of those sectors, as well (in particular, tourism - more on that, soon). So here is a short burst I want to share from the world of transportation: I think the Cars of the Future will become more like Social Objects. Of course, this will vary drastically from country to country (and cultures) but I think that an increasingly large percentage of cars will cease to be owned, maintained, paid and used by one party only. Instead, groups of people will have fractional ownership (as the brilliant Kevin Kelly calls it), i.e. use, share or access the car when and where they need it, and thereby using motor vehicles much more efficiently. This will be true for plain-old functional cars ('just get me from A to B') as well as for fun, sports and other special-purpose cars. The obvious advantage of enormous cost and energy savings will make this concept pretty much irresistible - the only thing that keeps most of us from doing this now, already, is our reliance on the car as a status symbol and (indeed) as some weird guarantor of 'personal freedom' (yes...I am guilty, too). I believe that this will turn around within the next 3-5 years: if you DO own a car, just for yourself and your own enjoyment, people may well consider you hopelessly old-fashioned; and not much admiration will come your way any longer. I also reckon that within the next 2-3 years many Europeans will not really enjoy individual driving that much any more, with lower and lower speed limits becoming a constant headache, mega-traffic jams and congestion...

Gerd Leonhard

Keynote Speaker, Think-Tank Leader, Futurist, Author & Strategist, Idea Curator, some say Iconoclast | Heretic, CEO TheFuturesAgency, Visiting Prof FDC Brazil, Green Futurist

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