When you drive your car to work and then home at the end of the day, as one of the worlds car users, you generally use it for on average 1 hour per day. This is the worlds average car use. So in its life of say 40 years, it clocks up the use of only 1.5 years of actual use! The world we will move into in 10 years is a driverless world, where the computers and sensors on a modern car will be able to be 99% safer than you can possibly be as a distractable driver. 26 sensors simply don’t get distracted, and the systems that are being developed, are getting as close to perfect as engineers can get them, while the legal part of the business tries to get around the insurance nightmare that is the driverless car.
So a driverless car can operate all 24 hours, if it can find a user, and of course when you can order a car online and in 2 minutes it is at your door, and it delivers you for a fee to your destination, it is going to be amortising its cost on 24 hours with no driver, whereas you amortised the use of your old car based on only using 1/24th of its time. So driverless will be cheap! You will not be able to justify buying a car. You will get an Uber/Taxify driverless. Let’s not make any bones about it, the real purchasers of vehicles in volume are going to be the people who drive the applications on the internet that provide the service of getting from A to B.
The world has been buying 97 Million vehicles per annum in 2017. The curve describing global consumption is interesting as it tells a picture of an increase that is slowing down to some ‘peak’ figure. Because when the driverless systems come into play, and cars are used all 24 hours of their lives, we need, as a world, a lot fewer cars. Driverless cars are all being sold on leases that are 4 years long because the car has to be insured by the maker, as you aren’t insuring the driver anymore. So the system you will be seeing installed is going to be leased Driverless cars, that are returnable after 4 years, that go back to the maker for recycling. They will be hybrid or electrically driven and will go park themselves at a station where they can plug themselves in like the robot carpet cleaners that we already know.
So what is the opportunity for Kenya? It sits in Kwale. It centres around a car industry that is based on an electric car that needs to be much lighter than what we currently use, and that can be fully recycled easily. We have huge deposits of Titanium ore in that area, and could build a car industry that produces Titanium body shells for cars, that if you crash into simply bend and spring back. Titanium is light and incredibly strong. You could set up a build line close to the source of the raw material, and thereby get an internationally competitive vehicle for the future volume trade of the world. We could LEAD the world!
To do this we need to install a standard vehicle building plant immediately before Peak Car actually hits the world. It needs to be done now! This would build up our capacity and workforce and it isn’t important who we use, as the Chinese, Indians, French, Japanese and Germans would all like to install take-over capacity for Africa. They all want to do this and need a green light!
Once it was up and running and delivering 1 Million standard Africa ready vehicles, it would have the turnover to fund the necessary R&D facilities, to develop the new titanium shelled, electrically driven vehicles for driverless use.
You will say I am mad. But look at what has happened to the various taxi firms that are vying for price competitiveness, and how they are operating! Nairobi has a taxi service that is beginning to pull people out of their cars and move to taxis! What will happen when they have the opportunity to move to a driverless platform that cuts out the cost of the driver? People will move! You have to rotate 3 drivers through a car to legally have a driven taxi on the road 24 hours a day. And you have already seen variability designed into the algorithms so that the price of using taxis is now varying with demand curves so that people who are interested in the price of their ride have the option to travel off-peak. It is already here! There is just another stage for it to move.
I have already bought my last car. I know that at some point the system of providing driverless support will get good enough that it is cheaper than doing the normal upkeep on my car, and is equally efficient. There will initially only be full coverage in the centres of population, but it will quickly spread to cover the close rural, and then steadily it will move to the very rural. And as it does the global consumption of vehicles will go down. And down. But the use of a fractional weight titanium shelled vehicle, that doesn’t use a lot of battery power, that is 100% recyclable, will go up. That is the bandwaggon we need to be looking at climbing onto!
We know that ‘Peak car’ has almost been reached, and that soon car production will wane, and the car producers are all lining up their ducks so as to be best off as the world they are selling into dwindles, and they compete with reducing margins into an increasingly difficult market. We have a very odd situation where we have many major car companies selling almost identical products at a price which isn’t cheap. This is in direct contrast to what we started off with in the mass vehicle market, where many cars were produced as simple and small and cheap. Now, the majors don’t seem to be interested in cheap for the customer, as they don’t take enough margin out of a small car to make it worth their while producing it. Such great vehicles as the Citreon Marie have fallen by the wayside, and yet rural economies were built on them. So the current range of companies aren’t doing a job that matches what was done by the same compaines 50 and 80 years ago.
And they have a much greater fear. What if someone produces an ‘after market’ set of devices and sensors that allow a current vehicle to go onto the road driverless? Supposing that this is possible (and it is very possible) then all vehicles currently on the road could go driverless. Under this sort of control, vehicle crashes will be almost non existent, and the software will be telling you when to do what, so you will get service warning, and through this, longevity.
The world doesn’t actually need any more cars at all. Other than those that are more efficient and eco-friendlier.
With the current population of vehicles around the world put into availability for more than the current user, as taxis etc, we wouldn’t need to deliver another new car for at least 20 years! Can you imagine the fear within the car industry, were a rival of such capability to be let loose on the world?
Kenya could style itself as the new software and hardware supplier for retrofit to vehicles AND could be the center of a new world industry of insuring the self-driving car. We develop a fund that designates an owner of a driverless vehicle, who then is held responsible for the actions of this system controlling the car, and then all driverless cars now have a method of being insured just like a normal car. The difference is that this is now a normal car with an added on control system, that operates driverlessly.
We could also develop the software to project a hologram in front of each passenger giving them car specific information, so that regardless of the traits of the car, that these could be programmed into the driverless unit, so as to educate the passengers. So why don’t we go for the control system, as that will rule the world, not the car it is attached to!
By: David Percival