I realized during the Summit that out of the 4 panelists and the moderator, I was the only one with a real disruption concept. I totally enjoyed working with these folks who had considerably different opinions than what I brought to the party and in reality, there was a reason for that.
In most cases people in the automotive industry are somewhat connected to the retail side of the business either by selling products or services or with some other kind of financial advantage. Those folks, even if they believed in the ever so rapidly changing transportation concepts that will ultimately impact the retail industry, in order to maintain relationships and serve up to the immediate purposes of the retail industry, they choose not to talk about it but they encourage someone else to do so without offering any kind of conspicuous endorsement. This trickles down the retail network as well since most of these people who seemingly deny the eminent transformation coming through the pipeline are authority figures who have a lot of credibility in the industry. As I said before this transformation is not a fad or fashion, it is a necessity. Americans drive about 3.5 trillion miles a year and burn almost 200 billion gallons of gas. All of it is really to move a 3000-pound metal object down the road, power up its accessories, lights and whatever else. In a solo driver’s case who on average weighs 150 pounds only 5 % of the energy is used to move the single driver in that vehicle. Americans travel 85% of the time by their automobiles, and in work commutes, it averages out to 1.1 persons per mile at an average speed of about 12 miles an hour. Furthermore, those solo driven vehicles need to be parked and stored 90% of the time.
Our transportation system currently not only is inefficient but wasteful, dangerous and environmentally irresponsible. If you look at the developments taking place all at the same time, it is designed to address the transportation problem at its roots. Electrification will address wasted energy and protect the environment from the byproducts of fossil fuel, Autonomous vehicles combined with rideshare concepts will address congestion, excessive cost and wasted time and manpower all in once.
Retail industry has more opportunities in the new world of transportation than ever before. The required infrastructure to operate autonomous ride fleets are now strategically located, in metro markets with large facility and lot sizes to accommodate these distribution systems, currently we call them auto dealerships. Those who doubt the technology to be not ready should pay attention to what the federal government has given green light to last month. In certain parts of the state of Texas, stage five full autonomous and driverless vehicles with no pedals and steering wheels or windshield wipers will start delivering pizza to customer. Whether the cargo is pizza or humans, what is the difference if these machines will take part in traffic where other manually and human driven vehicles are on the road. This civilization put a Rover on Mars 16 years ago and drove it around for about 15 years. What makes anyone think that human beings don’t have the technology to drive autonomous cars on the face of the earth.
Embrace the change and call me about the “Small Dealer Coalition” concept that will be the concept to catapult the retail industry into the future of transportation.
See you next month.