Bill Ford op-ed argues we can't just build and sell more of the same cars - Autoblog
By Brandon Turkus
Posted Jul 10th 2014
...Few people are as able to explain the industry's many upcoming changes and challenges as clearly as William Clay Ford, Jr., better known as Bill Ford. The 57-year-old currently sits as the executive chairman of the company his great-grandfather, Henry Ford, founded over 110 years ago.
In an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Ford explains that the role of automakers is, necessarily, going to change to suit the needs of the future world. That means changing the view of not just the automobile, but the automaker. As Ford explains it, automakers will "move from being just car and truck manufacturers to become personal-mobility companies."...
...In all, Ford's op-ed provides a fascinating look at what one of the industry's biggest names thinks of the automobile's future, with a particular focus on how it will affect you and I as the world continues to change, evolve and grow. The entire piece is available at The Wall Street Journal's site, and is a highly recommended read.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Bill Ford on the Future of Transportation: We Can't Simply Sell More Cars - WSJ
Ford's Chairman Says We Must Rethink How We Make Vehicles—and How We Use Them
By Bill Ford
July 7, 2014
During the past decade, the automotive industry emerged from one of the most challenging periods we have ever encountered, and has now entered one of the most exciting and promising times in our history. Yet, even more important is our focus on the future, which will be defined by an important trend: the automobile as part of a larger ecosystem.
This requires a change in our view of the car as an individual object to seeing it as part of our broader transportation network. It also requires a fundamental change in how we think about transportation. Customers today have extremely diverse priorities, and we must embrace these differences as we design and sell automobiles.
The facts that underpin this trend are compelling. With a growing global population and greater prosperity, the number of vehicles on the road could exceed two billion by midcentury. Combine this with a continuing population shift toward cities, with a projected 54% of the global population in cities by 2050, and it becomes clear that our current transportation model is not sustainable. Our infrastructure cannot support such a large volume of vehicles without creating massive congestion that would have serious consequences for our environment, health, economic progress and quality of life.
The good news is that this scenario is not inevitable, and some experts say this challenge represents a $130 billion business opportunity for the automotive market. Some solutions already are under way to develop more space-efficient vehicles with clean engines that run on gas or alternative energy sources. Yet other answers will require a fundamental rethinking of what the business of being an auto manufacturer looks like. No matter how clean and efficient vehicles are, we simply cannot depend on selling more of them as they function today. Cars will need to be smarter and more integrated into the overall transportation system.
Forward-looking companies will redefine themselves and move from being just car and truck manufacturers to become personal-mobility companies. We will be thinking more intelligently about how the vehicles we build interact with one another and with a city's infrastructure, which includes trains, pedestrian walkways, buses, bikes and everything else that helps us move through urban centers.
Rapidly changing preferences among car owners, including an ever-increasing emphasis on connectivity, will redefine the types of vehicles we bring to market, the features we focus on and how vehicles are marketed and used...