More About Horsepower

Enough about vagina-power and back to a topic near and dear to my heart,
horsepower. I want a new car. I want an Aston Martin DB9. No wait, I
want a Maserti Ghibli. Hmmmm, actually, make mine a Jaguar F-Type. I
want something fast, dangerous, and beautiful. Something completely
silly and senseless and so very much fun. I want a long, elegant beast
that hugs the curves and does 0 to 60 in seconds, or at least feels like
it. I want a head turner, something you hear before you see.

When I’m done daydreaming about my dream car that I will be buying right
after the kitchen remodel and college tuition is paid off, I have to
confess:

I am ready for a revolution.

Here is what I want, what I want, what I really, really want. ($20 if
you can name that tune. Although I should be embarrassed.) I want my
car to tell me what to do. I want my car to tell me when it is “sick”,
what it will take to nurse it back to health, and help me decide when it
is time to put it out of it’s misery or my misery as the case may be.
And when it is time for disposal, then tell me the best way – trade in,
private sale, sell for parts, charity tax write-off…whatever.

I want the connected car to be all about making a better, safer vehicle
that is easier to own. By easier, I mean less expensive, less of a
hassle. Fair pay for fair work regarding maintenance, service, and
parts. I want a vehicle that will save my life by not putting me in
danger when something critical has failed. I want a car that knows it’s
airbags have been recalled and if they engage, will send shrapnel into
my face and STOP THAT FROM HAPPENING. NOW.

I do not really want my car connected to my phone and to provide me with
entertainment. Actually take that back. I do want to make phone, but
no on the entertainment. Until, that is, it is driving me. Ooooohhhh,
I want that! I want my car to drive me. I really do. I want an
autonomous, self-driving vehicle. Hell, I would even buy a subscription
for an autonomous shared self-driving vehicle.

Do not get me wrong. I will not buy a subscription for an Aston Martin
to drive me around. No. I want endless twisting, open road with drop
dead gorgeous scenery around me while I flat out drive like a bat out of
hell in my DB9. I will pay top dollar for a few hours of access to such
road. Maybe I don’t need to own that Ghibli. Maybe I can rent the
Ghibli when I rent the open road. I would want an open road, exotic car
club to join and pay a membership for access to empty roads around the
world and fleets of sexy car cleavage to drive.

That is what I want, what I really, really want – a subscription to a
commuter service that will drive me to and from work, after work
dinners, and week day errands. I want a membership into an “exclusive
exotic car and open road” club. And on the weekends, when I don’t want
to wait for a car to pick me up to take me to the grocery store, I will
drive my family station wagon, the one we all share. We really only
need one car and it has to be somewhat fun to drive. A VW or mid-sized
BMW sedan, maybe that gorgeous E350 Benz wagon. I know it seems odd, my
affinity for station wagons, but I’ve got it bad. I drive a diesel
wagon and feel really killa, after all. Eric thinks I’m plum nuts.

I’ve been having these fantasies for quite some time now. I am
convinced I am right about subscriptions for commuting and memberships
for serious, open road driving. I see the stratification as an obvious
path forward. There is just too much history with gas vehicles and 510
horsepower super cars to go away forever. While the Millennials might
not like owning cars, maybe Gen. Z will fall in love entirely with
muscle cars and the Shelby CSX 9000.

Where I get stuck is with the weekend suburban view. I’m not sure what
the solution is for the suburban, gotta run to the grocery store and
pick up Thyme scenario. A subscription service for shared autonomy just
doesn’t work. I have a bike, but I’m a fair weather rider. If it’s
cold, I am not on the bike. If the trends hold true, we will all be
living in giant city states at some point and there will be no driving
on the weekends, just walking to and fro, which is fine by me. I just
struggle to see some suburban areas completely vacant in my lifetime.
Don’t get wrong, some should be emptied by force to save the children
from their plight. Think of the sprawl of Northern Virginia. There is
not a less soul sucking, spirit crushing place that ever existed. THAT
place should be emptied since it is truly inhibited by Zombie masses
anyway. But I digress.

Where I currently live is absolutely a suburb. Shocking as it is to my
friends that I live in a suburb, it is a very nice suburb. It’s like a
little village with pleasant little houses and oak trees and lots of
people on bicycles. The weather is mostly temperate, not Los Angeles
heaven temperatures, but pleasant for the clog and flannel set. Or
rather, it’s more like the Ugg and Louie Vuitton set. I’m digressing
again.

My point is, I do not see Menlo Park becoming a barren waste land or
subsumed by San Francisco to the point where I no longer need a vehicle.
But I do see other options for vehicle ownership close on the horizon.

So, what’s its going to be then?

What got me thinking more about the pragmatic realities of my vehicle
scenarios is the recent publication from Morgan Stanley of the following
chart:

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 1.22.07 PM
It is good, really good. But it doesn’t answer my just-in-thyme
scenario. Yes, the pun is bad and its in honor of Stewart Watson, the
goof. I do not yet know the answer to that question, but I will gentle
reader. As the goddess as my witness, I will.

To make good on Morgan Stanley’s prediction, several things need to
happen and not just around technology breakthroughs or legal reforms,
although those are both vitally important. There needs to be a
fundamental shift in the business model for vehicles. And a lot of it
comes down to connectivity and killing the secondary vehicle
connectivity subscription. People just hate it and are rejecting it
whole-hog. I know there is a lot of hype about Wifi and LTE making
soooo much money for OEMs. But when you read the fine print or the
words carefully, it was not $350 million in additional profits, it was
soft money – savings, recalls, etc. Which in my book is good and makes
my point. Connectivity is a way to do business for OEMs. It is a means
to a better end. It is not and should not be the business for a car
company. Unless they buy spectrum, but I’m not going down that rabbit
hole at the moment.

I predict that the car companies selling connectivity packages are not
going to be making any real money from them and Wifi and LTE are not the
killer apps at all. If you want a money wager on this, call me. I’m
good for it and I’ve never welched on a bet.

In my commuter vehicle subscription scenario, the connectivity is paid
for by the subscription holder. In my exotic car and open road
scenario, it is paid for by the members. For my personal vehicle, my
beautiful station wagon (blue, cream interior), any ancillary
connectivity used by Mercedes to make my E350 better, should be paid by
MB. If I decided to engage in music streaming, it should come from my
phone. I am still so very flummoxed why this is considered hard or
difficult. I know it is not.

There is a path forward. Join me in my connected car revolution.