Tesla must go into Taxi cars business
And the reason for that are these 2 ugly pieces of metal:
One of the leaders on the market of creating a self-driving car is of course Google, who started to work on this project since 2009. Later on the company was renamed to Waymo and it did some considerable progress since then. Waymo has 2 successful projects and these are the Firefly, a car made, I think so, for people with disabilities and older people who need a quick ride in the neighborhood. And the second one is a family SUV. Overall if draw the picture, it looks bright. These guys are solving a real issue in the world and tapping into 2 big markets, families & old people who cannot drive anymore but still need a ride. They even did a full test with a blind person who was taken safely from point A to B without any accident. And then the CEO of the company said this:
“Fully self-driving cars are here,” John Krafcik CEO of Waymo.
He just for got to add, but I will do it for him: “And they look ugly as fuck.” As a designer I can fully understand this, early stage prototypes are not always the best and you launch the product asap only to start testing the idea and start iterating on it. I understand we are in the early stages of designing and building a beautiful self-driving car, but you can’t go lower than how a “Firefly” by Waymo looks. Have you heard how that car sounds? Like a vacuum cleaner and looks like somebody kicked its ass and is about to cry.
They uploaded a video on youtube showcasing how this car works and they did a full test drive with a blind person. And I am glad I did not have to write this comment first:
Overall it just looks bad. Like a can of tuna that is about to be open. But what’s more interesting is a short introduction to this car on their website:
“Imagine if everyone could get around easily and safely, without tired, drunk or distracted driving…” Right, you can get into that car only when you are drunk or tired as hell and want to sleepand give 0 fucks about how it looks.
Other competitors on the market that offer a true self-driving car are still in the same ugly category and nobody excels on looks. A good explanation for that is because it’s still early stages and design is not important for them. And like a lot of crap looking cars nowadays on the market, we will have the same thing in self-driving future.
What principle did I use to judge if the design of the car is good or not? Merely saying I like or don’t is subjective but imagine going to a gala, fundraising event or any other important event where everything looks elegant and you arrive in this. Ok, you will say that people going to this kind of events don’t buy or rent this kind of cars. But now imagine going to a restaurant with friends and they wait for you outside and you come out of that same car. A date, or any other type of event. It. Just. Looks. Bad.
Self-driving is a luxury
For now, having a self-driving car is a luxury. Like the early days of iPhone, Tesla or any other cool company that brings something innovative to the market. And yes, like iPhones there will be other manufacturers that will produce low-cost products that can match the same capabilities as premium ones. But until then, it will take some time.
The current problem right now is that “cool looking” self-driving cars will be extremely expensive for an average consumer or cheap and look like that ugly car above. And there is a big chance this will not change anytime soon. The reason is, of course, the economy, the number of people who could afford this type of car is low and because good enough is good enough for us.
However, I compare the car industry to the smartphone one. We will have extra luxurious and expensive phones and then we will have a lower market and cheap ones. But there is still a chance that we will have the middle/enthusiast brands who will produce the sweet spot for the market. Cars that you will not be ashamed to be driven in, or get out from when arriving to a place. Self-driving cars that will look and work at it’s best in terms of software and seamless interaction between the gadgets we will have at that time. And most important, it will look great. I mean really great. But until then, it just remains a dream and we have to deal with what the big guys are offering on the market.
Who can design cool self-driving cars?
First and foremost Tesla. Elon Musk showed us that he has a vision. Something which most leaders lack and focus only on building a business rather a future. Now, getting back to other companies that could probably design something great. These companies will name based on a couple of factors: 1. they are present on the market for some time and already have products in mass production. 2. have an established reputation and history of great products. 3. that have the skills and capabilities to produce high quality and and great design-oriented cars at low cost are BMW, Audi, Mercedes and probably Volvo. I was thinking about Tesla but not sure if they plan to change from Premium cars to just cars.
This is, of course, an opinion and I believe these brands have a better sense of style and how to create great exteriors and interiors. And it also fits their market strategies for going after a different type of income categories. But if Tesla goes for low cost cars, it will be a real game changer. The reason people don't demand better low cost cars is because they are low cost and the second reason is that they haven't seen a cool low cost car yet.