RAC Cars News


The Future Of Buying Your Car

By raccars Published

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Cars are no longer merely a way of getting from A to B. Modern technology and connectivity systems are changing the landscape of auto manufacture. With internet giant Google pushing hard to release the first commercially available autonomous driving vehicle and Apple working hard on auto integration systems, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them take on the more traditional car makers.

However, it gets more complicated. In the near future, all cars will be fitted with functions such as ecall, which automatically notifies the emergency services of an accident, and bcall, which automatically connects with breakdown services and even tells them the source of the vehicle's failure. The next step from this will be some kind of 'concierge service,' allowing drivers to find restaurants, pharmacies, hotels and any manner of other services via constant connectivity with a call centre.

All of these connected services will need to be paid for, probably via monthly or annual subscriptions. This is a new departure for car makers, whose interaction with the customer has previously been limited to purchase followed by servicing and maintenance on a far less regular basis. To manage a billing system and service provision, you may see auto firms teaming up with other service providers, so you will in effect be buying an O2 VW or a Vodafone Ford, for example.

As part of the same system, the companies that provide these services will also have to come up with a way of protecting them from hackers. This is another form of interaction with another service provider that will also need paying for.

All of this, however, may be moot... The Finnish capital, Helsinki, is hoping to make car ownership obsolete by using modern technology and connectivity systems to create a 'mobility on demand' network of public transport. The same technology that can do all of the above could also manage a 'point to point' system of public transport, by providing real time data about the location of public transport services and integrating it with passengers' pick up and destination points. Customers will use their smartphones to source public transport at a location convenient to them and pay for it at the same time.

Managed properly, this could be the cheapest, most efficient and most flexible way for people to get around and the city is planning to have it in place by 2025. The app system would encompass minibuses, cars, bicycles, ferries, trams, and subway and train systems.

What remains to be seen is whether keen drivers could bear to give up their cars...

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